Egypt is looking to strengthen military cooperation with Cyprus and Greece. This came during tripartite talks held by the defense ministers of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, who discussed military relations and other issues of common interest in Cyprus on Wednesday (May 19).
Egypt, neighbouring war-torn Libya, has long positioned itself as a bulwark of stability in the region.
Earlier this month, Egypt ordered 30 Rafale jets from French producer Dassault Aviation. According to its defence ministry the order will be financed through a 10-year loan.
Investigative website Disclose said financing for the deal would be up to 85% guaranteed by the French state with lenders BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and CIC, which funded the original deal, signing up again. Disclose also said the the deal was worth 3.75 billion euro ($4.5 billion).
Eighteen single-seat models of the Rafale and 12 twin-seaters are to be delivered between 2024 and 2026, according to the French defence ministry.
Paris regards Cairo as a key client of its defense industry while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (a former army general) and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron enjoy a close relationship built on mutual security interests. Egypt was the first foreign country to purchase the Rafale jets in 2015, buying 24.
The new Rafale deal “reinforces the strategic and military partnership between France and Egypt”, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said. “This contract illustrates the strategic nature of the partnership… while our two countries are resolutely committed to the fight against terrorism and are working for stability in their regional environment.”
Egypt is the world’s third-biggest arms importer after Saudi Arabia and India, as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The African country’s arms purchases increased by 136 percent over the past decade and it has diversified its sourcing beyond the United States, buying military equipment from France, Germany and Russia, according to a report released by the institute earlier this year.
Egypt has a more than 1,000-strong air force fleet, 28 percent of them fighter planes, according to the Global Firepower site.
With reporting by AFP, Arab News