Reports are circulating that Kazakhstan may be looking to purchase Rafale fighter-bombers from France. However, this would represent a significant shift in Kazakhstan's military doctrine, which has traditionally favored Russian military equipment.
French President Macron has recently voiced his support for stronger ties between France and Kazakhstan. He has applauded Kazakhstan's decision not to follow the path of vassalization, an approach that has led to many dependencies around the world.
Kazakhstan’s Current Military Situation
Kazakhstan is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization with Russia. The Kazakh Air Force has already begun modernization of its fleet with Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft, a majority of its expected military equipment being of Russian design. There have been rumors that Kazakhstan might be interested in purchasing another type of aircraft, but these have been denied by the Kazakh Air Force.
Colonel Erzhan Nildibaev, head of the main armament department, has categorically denied any intention to purchase another type of aircraft. Likewise, General Dauren Kosanov, the head of the Kazakh Air Force, has emphasized the growing role of drones and insists that current equipment programs will not be reconsidered.
France and Kazakhstan Relations
Despite the good economic and trade relations between France and Kazakhstan, this is often not enough to finalize a sale of such significant military equipment. This type of sale also requires shared strategic interests between the buyer and seller, something that is not fully established between France and Kazakhstan at present.
Kazakhstan is not only home to the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport, but its population also includes approximately 20% Russians. This could potentially be a factor that could influence future purchase decisions.
Kazakhstan’s Recent Aircraft Purchases
While the idea of purchasing Rafale bomber fighters is being dismissed, Kazakhstan has ordered transport aircraft from Airbus. This shows that the country is open to diversifying its military equipment providers, even if it does not entail a major shift in military doctrine at present.