Egypt buys 30 Rafale jets, cements common security interests with France

Cairo’s arms purchases grew by 136 percent over the last decade as the country diversifies its sourcing beyond the United States.
Tuesday 04/05/2021
A 2015 file picture shows a French-made Rafale fighter jets purchased by Egypt stationed before delivery from an air base in the southern France city of Istres. (AFP)
A 2015 file picture shows a French-made Rafale fighter jets purchased by Egypt stationed before delivery from an air base in the southern France city of Istres. (AFP)

CAIRO--Egypt’s military has confirmed it has ordered 30 Rafale jets from French defence firm Dassault Aviation to shore up “national security”.

The order, which follows the 2015 purchase of 24 Rafale jets, will be financed through a 10-year loan, the military said in a statement late Monday.

Investigative site Disclose had reported earlier Monday that the order was part of a secret mega-defence deal worth almost €4 billion ($4.8 billion).

Egypt is the world’s third biggest arms importer after Saudi Arabia and India, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Its arms purchases grew by 136 percent over the last decade and it has diversified its sourcing beyond the United States, buying military equipment from France, Germany and Russia, the institute said in a report released earlier this year.

France's Rafale multirole fighter (APF)

Cairo has positioned itself as a bulwark of stability in the region as the conflict in its western neighbour Libya grinds on and tensions continue to mount with Ethiopia over its construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron enjoy a close relationship built on mutual security interests.

At a joint press conference with Sisi in Paris last December, Macron said: “I will not condition defence and economic cooperation matters on these disagreements (over human rights).”