During the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Uzbekistan on November 2, 2023, the nation expressed keen interest in acquiring 24 multirole Rafale fighter jets from France.
Intelligence Online, citing sources within the French government, reported this significant development.
If Uzbekistan proceeds with the purchase of French fighter jets, it signifies a remarkable diplomatic pivot for this Asian country, historically aligned with Russia and primarily equipped with Russian-made armaments.
This interest aligns with Uzbekistan’s ambition to modernize its military prowess, notably its substantial fleet of combat aircraft of Russian origin. According to FlightGlobal World Air Forces, the Uzbekistan Air Force currently operates 38 MiG-29 fighters, 20 Su-27 fighters, and 20 Su-25 ground-attack aircraft.
In recent years, the Uzbekistan Air Force has made strides in diversifying its arsenal by acquiring Western aircraft. This includes the addition of four Airbus C295MW transport aircraft, around a dozen Airbus H125 helicopters, and sixteen H215 helicopters.
However, the potential procurement of sophisticated fighter aircraft like the Dassault Rafale would necessitate a significant shift in military doctrine and operational infrastructure for the Uzbek military. Operating such advanced platforms demands extensive training, maintenance, and infrastructure, presenting a substantial challenge for the UzAF.
This move by Uzbekistan not only signifies a strategic shift in defense acquisitions but also presents a notable evolution in the geopolitical landscape of the region.