Egypt had signed a contract in 2015 with France to get 24 Rafale fighter jets for the Egyptian Air Force. The 24 Rafale aircrafts were part of a deal valued at 5.3 billion euros ($5.9 billion). Rafale was first introduced in the French Air Defense in 2006.
Early May 2021, Egypt signed a contract with the French Dassault Aviation company to purchase 30 Rafale fighter jets, worth 3.75 billion euro ($4.5 billion). The deal will be financed by a loan that will be repaid over 10 years, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense on May 4, 2021.
France’s weapons sales to the Middle East doubled in 2017, a government report showed, as President Emmanuel Macron defied pressure from lawmakers and rights groups to curb arms flows to a region mired in conflict.
The Egyptian accord also reportedly covers contracts for missile provider MBDA and equipment provider Safran Electronics & Defense which are worth another 200 million euros.
France is among the world’s leading arms exporters, its sales surging in recent years on the back of its first lucrative overseas contracts for Rafale fighter jets, notably to India and Qatar, as well as a multi-billion submarine deal with Australia.
Paris has sought to increase its diplomatic weight in the Middle East through the sale of naval vessels, tanks, artillery and munitions to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The government’s annual report on weapons sales, due to be released on Wednesday, shows that France’s total arms sales halved to 7 billion euros in 2017, in line with previous years where no major contracts, such as for the Dassault-made Rafale, were recorded.
However, about 60 percent of sales went to the Middle East, with arms exports to the region worth 3.92 billion euros compared to 1.94 billion euros a year earlier.
Sales to Saudi Arabia fell slightly, while deals to the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar soared.
France’s biggest defense firms, including Dassault and Thales, have major contracts with the Gulf.
“It is not for France to conclude piecemeal transactions depending on market opportunities. The goal is to create a strong link with the importing states,” the report said. “France’s arms exports meet the legitimate needs of states.”
France is now the third largest arms exporter in the world behind the United States and Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Unlike those of many allies, France’s export licensing procedures have no parliamentary checks or balances. They are approved by a committee headed by the prime minister that includes the foreign, defense and economy ministries.
Egypt is a large customer for German military hardware, ordering 802 million euros worth of equipment in 2019. However, German exports have been controversial due to concerns over human rights abuses in Egypt and Egypt’s support for countries like Saudi Arabia, which is involved in conflict in Yemen.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Egypt’s arms imports tripled between 2010–14 and 2015–19, making it the world’s third-largest arms importer, with the acquisition of attack helicopters, fighter jets, naval vessels and other hardware. The upward trend in Egypt’s arms imports coincides with its military involvement in Libya and in Yemen, and fighting with rebel groups in the Sinai Peninsula. It might also be linked to Egypt’s concerns over the security of gas fields in the Mediterranean and water supply from the Nile Basin, SIPRI said.
Egypt may acquire additional hardware from Germany, after the German parliament in April 2019 approved the sale of six Meko A200 frigates to Egypt, providing guarantees of up to 2.3 billion euros for the transaction.
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