Egyptian Military Modernization: A400Ms Added to the Amphib Buy?


2015-12-02 In September, Egypt announced that they were purchasing the two Mistral-calls amphibious ships which France and Russia agreed would NOT be sold to Russia earlier this year.

According to an article by Jess McHugh in the International Business Times published September 27, 2015:

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said this weekend that Middle Eastern countries have to band together to battle the growing terrorist threat that has engendered a “ferocious war” in his own nation. El-Sisi spoke to the Associated Press just days after he announced that Egypt was buying two French warships.

With the Islamic State group assuming control of vast swathes of Iraq and Syria at the same time Egypt has been beset by bombings and other terrorist attacks, el-Sisi has made building up his country’s military a top priority. The Egyptian leader told AP the military “has always been a factor for stability” in his nation…..

Egypt recently expressed its interest in buying two Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France after a purchase agreement with Russia went up in flames last year. Both ships were built for Russia in what would have been the first major arms deal between that country and a Western power since World War II. After Russia annexed Crimea and allegedly backed pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, however, France scrapped the deal in late 2014. Since then, it has lost millions of dollars in upkeep costs while looking for a buyer. Egypt purchased both ships Wednesday, reportedly paying $1.1 billion.

Since last year, Egypt also has ordered a Fremm multipurpose frigate and four anti-submarine Gowind-class corvette from the French shipbuilder DCNS and 24 Rafale fighter jets from the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, Defense News reported Sunday.

Analysts have indicated the increasing number of Egypt’s armament deals with France represents a concrete step by the North African country to decrease its reliance on U.S. defense capabilities.

Two Mistral-class helicopter carriers Sevastopol (L) and Vladivostok are seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, May 21, 2015. Russia wants 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion) in compensation from France for cancelling a contract to deliver two Mistral helicopter carriers, a Russian source close to the negotiations said last week. Picture taken May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe - RTX1E3S0
Two Mistral-class helicopter carriers Sevastopol (L) and Vladivostok are seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Of course, there is a Russian angle and one where France-Russia and Egypt can work together.

And according to a Russia Today piece published on October 20, 2015, the deal opens the way for Russia to supply the weapons which they were building for the warships, initially for themselves, but now for Egypt. 

Helicopter designer firm Russian Helicopters is prepared to supply $1 billion worth of equipment and aircraft for Egypt’s Mistral helicopter carriers. The two warships had initially been built by France for the Russian Navy.

Kremlin’s Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov has suggested the possible deal. 

“Egypt plans to buy Mistrals from France, and Russia would be…a sub-contractor that will provide these Mistrals with the necessary equipment. Without this hardware the Mistral, excuse me, is just a tin can”, Ivanov said. He added that the deal would include helicopters, which together with other equipment amounts to more than $1 billion.

“Egypt is a long-time strategic partner for us, and if the customer is interested, Russian Helicopters will be ready to supply Mistrals with all the necessary helicopter equipment,” the state corporation’s press service told RIA Novosti.

The Russian firm is ready to sell Egypt its Ka-52K helicopters, the naval version of the Ka-52 Alligator combat helicopter. This model was initially developed for the Mistrals ordered by Russia from France in 2011. In September, Egypt bought 50 Ka-52’s from Russia.

Now the next power projection piece for the Egyptian military might well be the A400M airlifter.

According to our strategic partner defenceWeb:

The Egyptian Air Force is seeking up to 12 A400Ms to grow its transport aircraft fleet, according to Spanish sources.

On 5 October Spanish website revealed an upcoming deal concerning an unspecified number of A400M airlifters for Egypt. Pilar Albiac, the executive VP of Airbus Defence & Space, was quoted as saying “that Egypt had requested delivery of A400M airlifters as soon as possible.”

On 24 November quoted unidentified aviation sources as saying the Egyptian order will comprise 12 aircraft at a cost of €150 million each for a total of €1.8 billion.

In mid-November Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi visited Airbus’ Seville-San Pablo plant where the A400M is assembled, along with the C295 light transport. Egypt has ordered a total of 20 C295s in several batches.

Airbus officials neither confirmed nor denied the Egyptian A400M sale.

The third A400M Aircraft delivered to the RAF arrived on a glorious sunlit evening into Brize Norton. The Ministry of Defence is pleased to announce it has taken delivery of its third A400M Atlas aircraft which has flown back to the UK. The next-generation transport aircraft took off from the assembly plant in Seville, Spain, and landed at its new home at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last night following the two and a half hour flight. The aircraft is the third of 22 A400M Atlas to be accepted by the UK as part of a £2.75 billion programme which is on track to meet the UK’s future air mobility requirements.
The third A400M Aircraft delivered to the RAF arrived on a glorious sunlit evening into Brize Norton.  The aircraft is the third of 22 A400M Atlas to be accepted by the UK as part of a £2.75 billion program which is on track to meet the UK’s future air mobility requirements. Credit Photo: Airbus Defence and Space

Meanwhile, quoted an unidentified industry official as confirming the deal, but saying that “the number of aircraft is much exaggerated.”

Egypt currently operates 26 Lockheed C-130 Hercules, as well as 9 DHC-5 Buffalos and is receiving 20 C295s.

Airbus Defence and Space is hoping to sign up a new A400M customer within the next 24 months, especially as the aircraft has now proven itself in real operations with France and Turkey, which has flown the airlifter into Africa and Afghanistan.

Airbus has demonstrated the aircraft in Algeria and Saudi Arabia and provided additional information on the A400M to three Latin American countries. Jordan, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are also reportedly interested in the type.

To date Airbus has delivered 16 aircraft and hopes to deliver a larger number next year. The A400M fleet has accumulated 4 550 flight hours as of the end of September with most flying accumulated by the French Air Force. These flight hours were reached in more than 1 100 missions.

Yesterday the Spanish Air Force reached an agreement with Airbus to buy 14 A400Ms out of a commitment for 27. The 14 aircraft will be delivered by 2022 after which a decision will be made on how to proceed with the remainder of the acquisition, postponed to 2024, reports Flight Global. A decision to reduce the buy or sell the remaining 13 to other customers would have to be agreed by the manufacturer and the Spanish government, the report notes. These 13 aircraft would be sold by Spain to customers like Egypt.

The on again and off again policies of the U.S. Administration have played a role, but Egypt is seeking to protect its interests, as is every player in the current Middle East crisis.

According to a brief overview from Defense Industry Daily:

For most of the Cold War, Egypt’s military was a Soviet client. Every war with Israel was fought with weapons that were predominantly Russian. Russian pilots, air defense troops, and other specialists even fought in combat beside their Egyptian counterparts.

All that changed with the Camp David accords.

Egypt slowly flipped, as the flood of American military aid dollars soon translated into a military whose high-end equipment was predominantly American.

Now, hostility from the current US administration after the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from power in Egypt is changing the relationship again.

Egypt is looking beyond the USA for equipment, and the Russians are seizing an opportunity to begin bringing Egypt back into the fold.

The Egyptian military’s stocks haven’t wholly been purged of Russian equipment, either, which adds plausibility to the idea. Is Egypt about to flip again? And who else is in the mix?

After the freeze on arms transfers to Egypt by the White House, Egypt turned to Russia who responded with significant arms transfers, initially for helicopters which the government is using in dealing with their own approach to counter-insurgency.

Indeed, the Russian arms transfers were part of the strategic shift in the Middle East, which was underway with the seizing of Crimea and concurrent moves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Later, the White House lifted the arms freeze but it seemed more a case of shutting the barn door when the horses had not only left but were running in the next race,