MUSCAT, Feb 11 (Reuters)
France is proposing that Oman replaces its ageing fleet of Jaguar ground attack aircraft with Rafale combat planes built by Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), French diplomatic sources said.
The offer was made by visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a meeting and dinner on Tuesday with Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the second stage of a Gulf tour, they said.
Oman wants to replace a fleet of almost 20 Anglo-French Jaguars, in service with the Royal Air Force of Oman for around 30 years.
France is looking for a first export customer for the multi-role Rafale but is expected to face competition in Oman from rivals including the EADS-built (EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) Eurofighter.
Sarkozy is on a three-nation visit to Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, countries which tradiitionally buy strategic hardware from the English-speaking world.
"These are by tradition Anglo-Saxon countries -- fine, but France has its own cards to play," Sarkozy told journalists before meeting the Sultan of Oman.
"I am not going to leave here empty-handed. We are sowing seeds and then we will fight to defend our companies and bring back contracts," he said. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, editing by Dan Lalor)