Paris – France stands ready to supply Kuwait with anti-ship missiles to arm the Caracal military transport helicopter the Gulf nation has just ordered from Airbus Helicopters, a French defense official said Aug. 10.
A certification of fitting the weapon on the platform, and Kuwait funding the request, would allow the deal to be done. "We would do it," said the official, who declined to be named.
Kuwait has a specific requirement for airborne missiles for use against fast offshore boats. Such a need emerged in negotiations for a recent order of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
A French official with defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Kuwait yesterday said there was interest in anti-ship weapons for the Caracal, Agence France-Presse reported.
Kuwait signed yesterday a contract worth €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) for 30 H225M Caracal helicopters, with 24 units for the Air Force and six for the National Guard. Some 18 of the helicopters will be fitted for combat search and rescue, with four or five kitted for anti-ship missions. DCI will train the Kuwaiti pilots and maintenance crews for the Caracals.
The Kuwaiti parliament conducted a six-month study of helicopter options, and only when that audit was completed, the government could sign the contract with Airbus Helicopters.
The company beat competitors Leonardo and Sikorsky for the business, website La Tribune reported.
French defense officials see the Kuwaiti helicopter order as marking a "decisive step" in terms of political relations and weapons, with close links expected to continue. Those associations with France could be seen in the fact that the Kuwaiti prime minister was in Cannes, southern France, at the time when an attacker on July 14 drove a truck and killed dozens of people in the streets of the nearby town Nice, an official said.
Kuwait is an English-speaking country, but the Gulf nation has sent some 170 officers for training in French military schools, the official said. That training signifies a close and long-term relationship between the armed forces of the two countries.
However, Kuwait opted in April for the Eurofighter rather than ordering the Rafale, despite earlier indications of a plan to select the fighter jet from Dassault Aviation.
Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopter already is integrating the MBDA Exocet AM39 anti-ship missile on the Caracal for the Brazilian Navy, the company said in a Dec. 3, 2015, statement. Helibras, the Airbus Brazilian subsidiary, is connecting the naval mission system with missile launchers.