Egypt itching for a war with Turkey, Can Egypt compete with Turkey?

Bayraktar TB2 armed drone.

In response to movements from the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt will likely launch a military intervention in eastern Libya, using tribal ties to gain public support for or the deployment to secure Egypt’s western borders. While Egypt will seek to avoid engaging in direct combat with rival Turkish forces in the region, its presence on the ground will raise the risk of a wider confrontation that draws Cairo deeper into Libya’s increasingly insoluble civil war.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi meets with Commander of the Libyan national army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 May 2017 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi meets with Commander of the Libyan national army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 May 2017 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

The website Global Fire Power in February released its annual review, ranking the countries of the world in terms of military power. Egypt in 2020 rose to number nine, while Turkey fell to 11th place.

Egypt is the only Arab country that ranked among the 10 most powerful armies in the world, rising from its 12th place position last year. Turkey, meanwhile, fell behind Egypt, despite ranking higher in the past several years.

Here are the most prominent figures to consider when making a military comparison between the two forces:

Egypt has 440,000 active personnel, while Turkey has 355,000. Egyptian reserve forces consist of about 480,000 soldiers, compared to about 380,000 in Turkey.

Turkey’s military budget is higher than Egypt’s. Global Fire Power’s figures indicate that Turkey allocated US$19 billion for military spending in its last budget, compared to US$11 billion allocated by Egypt. Turkey is defense exporter while Egypt is a defense importer. Egyptian fragile economy can collapse if a war between Egypt and Turkey.

al-monitor
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets Fayez al-Sarraj (L), chairman of the Presidential Council of Libyas Government of National Accord (GNA), in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2020.  Photo by Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Most of the equipment and weapons systems used by the Turkish Armed Forces is of US origin. Today, other main weapons suppliers of Turkey are Germany, Israel, England, France and Russia. Lately, locally developed weapons such as combat rifles for infantry (MPT-76), long range Howitzer cannons (Firtina Obüs), un-manned armed drones (Bayraktar IHA) etc are being suplied to the Army by national weapon factories. Also, national projects for armored tanks (Altay), warships (Milgem), and war planes are carried out by Turkish state and private institutions.

Economy

According to the World Bank’s latest Macro Poverty Outlook, Egypt’s growth in Fiscal Year 2018-2019 increased to 5.6% (up from 5.3% the previous year), a rate that was sustained through the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019-2020.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Egypt was worth US$303.20 billion in 2019, according to official data from the World Bank and projections from Trading Economics.

The median forecast in a July 21-23 survey of 42 economists in and outside the country was for a contraction of 4.3% in 2020, with drops in the second and third quarters of 12.2% and 3.1% respectively.

But the Turkish economy is expected to grow next year by 4.5%, according to the median forecast.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Turkey was worth US$754.41 billion in 2019, according to official data from the World Bank and projections from Trading Economics.

Turkey’s Foreign Exchange Reserves was measured at $52.8 billion in May 2020, compared with $30.3 billion Foreign Exchange Reserve of Egypt in May 2020. Financially, Turkey is in a better position to fight a war than Egypt.

Air Power

The two countries are almost equal in terms of the number of assets each of them has in its air force. Egypt has 1,054 total aircraft, while Turkey has 1,055. Egypt has 215 combat aircraft, while Turkey has 206.

Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones destroyed number of Russian-made Pantsir battery in Syria and Libya.

Turkish Air Forces are composed by; 19 combat squadrons, 2 reconnaissance squadrons, 5 training squadrons, 6 transportation squadrons, 1 tanker squadron, and 8 surface to air missile (SAM) squadrons. These units are organized into; 2 tactical air forces (1st TAF HQ in Eskisehir and 2nd TAF HQ in Diyarbakir), 2 main air transport bases, tanker base, air training, and air logistics command.

Boeing Peace Eagle AEW&C (Source Boeing Defense)

After US Air Forces, Turkish Air Forces have the most number of F-16 aircraft (217 pieces) in the world, with a total of 370 fighter jets. There are also Drones, AWACS, Tanker planes in their inventory. Turkish Air Forces can participate in exercises conducted overseas flying non-stop thanks to their in-air refuelling capability with tanker planes.

Bayraktar TB2

Turkey surpasses Egypt in the number of helicopters it possesses, having 497 helicopters. Egypt, meanwhile, has 294.

Egypt lacks proven drones in an air combat, while Turkey has proven armed drones in Syrian and Libyan conflict.

Land Forces

Egypt has 4,295 tanks, while Turkey has 2,622. The Egyptian army also has a greater number of armored vehicles, at 11,700, while Turkey has 8,777.

Turkish Army practices amphibious assault.

As for self-propelled artillery units, the Egyptian army owns 1,139, while Turkey owns 1,278.

Egypt has almost double the number of towed artillery owned by Turkey (2,189 vs. 1,260).

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Turkish Land Forces are composed by; 4 field armies, 9 army corps, 2 mechanized infantry division, 2 mechanized infantry division headquarters (tactical), 1 infantry division and 1 training division, 16 mechanized infantry brigades, 14 armored brigades, 12 infantry/regional security brigades, 5 commando brigades, and 5 training brigades. There are around 3100 tanks in their inventory, 6300 armored personnel carriers (APC), 331 helicopters.

If a conflict broke between Egypt and Turkey, Turkish drone can be a significant headache for Egyptian land forces.

Naval Forces

Egypt has twice the number of marine assets (316 compared to 149 in Turkey). Egypt also has two aircraft carriers, while Turkey does not have any of this type of ship.

Turkey surpasses Egypt in the number of submarines it possesses, owning 12 submarines compared to eight in Egypt. Turkey also has 16 frigates, compared with seven in Egypt. Turkey also has 10 corvettes, while Egypt has seven.

Turkish Naval Forces are composed by; 14 submarines, 26 frigates, 22 fast patrol boats, 21 mine sweepers or hunters or layers, 50 various landing ships, 30 various maritime patrol aircraft or helicopters, and amphibious brigade. Navy’s subordinate commands are; Fleet Command, Northern Sea Area Command, and Naval Training and Education Command.

Egypt has three times the number of mine warfare units, 31 compared to 11 in Turkey.

Military Doctrine

Turkey is located in the center of the Caucasus, Middle East and the Balkans which are the most unstable regions in the World.

Therefore the defense policy is designed to preserve and protect the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and vital interests of the country. The Turkish Armed Forces missions and responsibilities are clearly stated in the Constitution and determined by laws as to react against new security problems and crises in the new century, to be ready to face the uncertainties, and to ensure the security of Turkey against internal and external risks.

All Land, Naval and Air forces were connected to the Turkish General Staff, Gendarmerie forces were connected to the Land forces, and Coast Guard is connected to the Naval forces. The Turkish armed forces are highly trained with U.S. military and NATO countries.

Egypt Plans to Engage Turkey In Libya Could Be A Fatal Mistake!

Egypt’s parliament on Monday approved the deployment of its armed forces to combat militias outside the western borders.

A closed-door session was held to discuss an important topic, according to an announcement made by House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdelaal after the morning session ended.

Abdelaal said during Monday’s plenary session that the Egyptian parliament has the right to hold a secret session at the request of the president, the prime minister and the parliament speaker, or according to a request submitted by 20 MPs.

Al-Sayyed al-Sherif, Undersecretary of the House of Representatives, said on Sunday that all MPs support the Egyptian government in a military intervention in Libya with no opposition to any decisions made in this regard.

The Libyan parliament earlier in July granted the Egyptian armed forces the right to intervene in the country’s ongoing conflict to protect Libyan and Egyptian national security.

To Summarize

The number of troops in Turkish armed forces are greater than those of France and Britain combined, with 570,000 men under arms and 429,000 in reserve, plus a robust air force with American fighters. Actually, it’s the 2nd largest standing force in NATO after the United States and 8th biggest number of active troops in the world.

The Egypt decisions to intervene in Libya could be a fatal mistake by the Egyptian government as the Turkish armed forces will have the upper hand and Egypt will only count the body bags, — economic disaster would be more dangerous than the actual war.

A simple comparison between the number of ships, aircraft and tanks that Egypt and Turkey each have in order to predict the likely outcome of a confrontation is likely to be misleading. Armies depend on political and diplomatic manoeuvres to direct them appropriately and effectively. When all of these factors are considered, then the balance is clearly in Turkey’s favour.

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