By Derek Bisaccio, @DerekBisaccio
A year after completing an order for the Dassault Rafale, Cairo has reportedly reentered negotiations with France regarding the procurement of additional fighter jets. On June 15, La Tribune reported that Egypt is in discussions with Dassault Aviation for the acquisition of 12 more Rafales.
La Tribune reports that some sources believe it is possible a contract could be reached before the end of this year, while others are more cautious about the timeframe for completion. As of yet, no side has commented on the reports of ongoing negotiations.
Egypt and France formally signed an agreement worth 5.2 billion euros on the acquisition of 24 Rafales, as well as MBDA missiles and a FREMM naval vessel, in February 2015. Of the 24 Rafales, 16 are two-seater Rafale DMs, while the remaining eight are single-seater Rafale EMs.
The first batch of three jets – reportedly from French inventory – arrived later in 2015, in July, and a second batch of three arrived in January of this year. These shipments marked the first export of the Rafale jet. Ahead of the deliveries, Egyptian pilots and maintenance crews trained in France on the operation of the systems.
According to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, the Rafales are armed with AASM HAMMER air-to-ground missiles, the two versions of MBDA's MICA short- and beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, Exocet AM39 anti-ship missiles, and the SCALP long-range standoff cruise missile.
The agreement reached with France included an option for 12 more Rafales, which forms the basis of the framework for the current negotiations reported by La Tribune. A follow-on contract would be good news for Dassault Aviation, which wants to sell Rafales to India and Malaysia.
Similar to the initial order, it is unclear how Cairo will opt to finance a follow-on order. As noted alongside the announcement of the first sale in February 2015, experts speculated that it was possible France or Gulf countries provided loans to Egypt to aid in the acquisition. Egypt make seek a similar arrangement for an additional order of Rafales, though details of financing remain limited.
Alongside the Rafale, Cairo has negotiated with Russia for the acquisition of other fighter jets. Egypt was reported to have purchased 46 MiG-29s in 2015 under a $2 billion deal. MiG CEO Sergei Korotkov has also stated that MiG is ready to supply Egypt with MiG-35s.
Rumors continue to abound that Egypt is also buying Russian Su-35s. These rumors were recently fueled by an Egyptian television report that mentioned Cairo was purchasing 29 unspecified Sukhoi military aircraft, though this could be easily have been a reference to another system, such as the Su-30SM, and not the Su-35.
The fighter jet acquisitions are part of a larger Egyptian program of procuring new military systems to boost its conventional deterrent power and improve the military's counterinsurgency efforts. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has purchased a frigate, corvettes, naval helicopter carrier vessels, fighter jets, helicopters, and missiles.
Enjoy our original articles? Consider supporting Conflict News with a small contribution on our Patreon page, to help us cover site host costs, and provide exciting new content in the future!