On Friday the head of the Egyptian Navy, Osama Ahmed el-Gendy, said Egypt had signed an agreement to buy two Type 209 attack submarines. "We have agreed to a deal with Germany to procure two submarines of the latest 209 Class," he told the Al-Ahram daily newspaper.
“Egypt will not allow anyone to enter its territorial waters,” el-Gendy said in his first public statement since taking office. “Our Navy is in good condition, and at the highest level of operational readiness.”
Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot on Sunday stated that the German government had decided not to ratify the purchase agreement with Egypt and quoted unnamed government sources as saying that the possible submarine deal had resulted in a "dramatic deterioration in the relationship" between the two countries.
However, later that same day in a statement published by Al-Ahram, sources in the Egyptian navy denied that Berlin had cancelled the deal.
“The only two parties determining the fate of this deal are the German and Egyptian governments and not Israeli newspapers which try to destabilize security within Egypt,” a source in the navy told Al-Ahram, saying that the submarine deal was proceeding.
Yesterday German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told German media that relations with Israel have not been affected over the submarine deal. “It has not changed in the German attitude to Israel, or the obligation the German government has (made) to ensure Israel’s security,” he said.
According to the DPA news agency, Seibert would not comment on details of the submarine deal, citing confidentiality provisions in the government. "The Federal Security Council must agree to the export of military weapons," he said.
Relations between Israel and Egypt became strained following the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and Egypt’s military operations in Sinai to combat militants there.
The Type 209 attack submarine was developed for export by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft of Germany. Five variants of the class (209/1100, 209/1200, 209/1300, 209/1400 and 209/1500) have been successfully exported to 13 countries, with more than 60 submarines being built and commissioned.
The Egyptian Navy currently has four Romeo class submarines in service. However, according to Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, the ageing submarine fleet is all but obsolete, and the country has been looking for more modern replacements over the last decade. Preliminary negotiations for ex-German Navy Type 206A boats were reported to have begun in December 2004, while in mi-2009 there were unconfirmed reports that Egypt might buy a pair of Project 636/Kilo class submarines from Russia, but it seems that these initiatives were stalled due to a lack of funding.
Egypt has over 2 000 km of coastline in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to protect, and also needs to enforce a blockade of the Gaza strip. el-Gendy also said on Friday that the Egyptian Navy is in the process of acquiring more naval vessels from the Netherlands and Turkey, in addition to the US.
In October last year VT Halter Marine launched the first of four fast missile craft (FMC) for the Egyptian Navy at its shipyard in Mississippi. A second vessel was launched in March this year. The first of four FMCs are scheduled to join the Egyptian fleet in 2012 or early 2013.
The four vessels are being built under a foreign military sales contract awarded by the United States Navy. In April 2010 it was announced that VT Halter Marine had been awarded a contract to build a fourth FMC, taking the value of the four 600-ton craft to US$807 million. VT Halter Marine received the initial design contract in 2005.
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