BEIRUT: Egypt’s latest agreement to buy 30 new Rafale jets will open prospects for other arms deals with France, experts tell Breaking Defense.
“As part of the same agreement, Egypt will probably acquire additional military equipment including FalconEye observation satellite and A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft manufactured by Airbus,” military researcher and defense analyst at the Arab Forum for Policy Analysis in Cairo Mohammad Al-Kenany told me.
It also strengthens Paris’ strategic partnership with Cairo, Mohamad Hassan, researcher and defense analyst at the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies said.
“Egypt is one of the most important security and economic partners of France, so it is in Paris’ interest to strengthen its relations with a country that shares the same strategic visions in Libya, the eastern Mediterranean, El Sahel and the Sahara, especially ones related to fighting terrorist and extremist groups hidden behind the veil of societal, cultural and religious work.”
Back in 2016, Egypt signed several deals worth $2.2 billion including a military telecommunications satellite by France’s Airbus Space Systems and Thales Alenia Space, but an agreement to acquire an observation satellite never saw the light due to high-cost reasons.
“Today, the two parties are ready to move forward with two FalconEye satellites, as financial issues are settled,” Al-Kenany added. “The satellite will be similar to the one operated by the UAE armed forces.”
Cairo has also been eyeing the MRTT tanker since 2014, due to the lack of air refueling capabilities within its Air Force.
“This is huge as Egypt will have air refueling capabilities for the first time ever,” he told me. “If the Rafale, Mig-29 and Su-35 fighter jets were able to perform buddy to buddy air refueling capabilities on the tactical level, the A330 offers bigger capabilities on the strategic level, extending the operational range of the Air Force to 2000 or 3000 km.”
Al-Kenany hopes the number of MRTT’s will double “given that the Air Force is under continuous development plans to increase in quantity and quality.”
On top of aircraft, there is a great deal of naval business in the cards, including 20 new ships ranging from fast missile crafts to light frigates, corvettes and submarines.
“The vessels will be built in our local shipyards and the Navy is planning to replace the aged fast-attack crafts Tiger, October and Ramadan with new ones,” Al Kenany said. “We also need additional corvettes for coastal and patrol missions, perhaps 1,000-ton offshore patrol vessels, Gowind ships or even additional 3,000 ton MEKO-class ships.”
For submarines, Al-Kenany said the Navy will not settle for the four German Type 209/1400 mod class subs currently in service. Cairo will potentially be offered two additional Type-214 while Naval Group of France will be competing to sell its Scorpene sub, Al-Kenany revealed.
He also confirmed that Cairo has recently acquired four Ground Master 400 (GM400) digital 3D air defense radars from Thales, providing C2 centres with superior situational awareness at all times.
Egypt’s Rafale Opens Door To More French, European Deals – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Chyrine Mezher for breakingdefense.com