Egypt eyeing more arms contracts with France


Egypt is on the verge of buying two more Gowind 2500 corvettes and two other warships from France, as well as a military satellite.

This is according to France’s La Tribune newspaper, which reported on Tuesday the deals would be worth more than a billion euros.

They are expected to be signed during a visit to Egypt by French President Francois Hollande on April 18.

In addition to two Gowind 2500 corvettes, Egypt is apparently also interested in the Gowind class patrol vessel L’Adroit, which is currently being used by the French Navy, but will leave the French fleet in the next few months (it was given to the French Navy by DCNS on a trial basis). Egypt previously ordered four Gowind 2500 corvettes, with production in France and Egypt, with options for two more. The two additional vessels would be built in France.

Mer et Marine reports that the fourth vessel, to be bought from Kership, could be the former French P400 vessel La Tapageuse, which was refurbished by Piriou and originally destined for Gabon but the sale fell through. Kership is a collaboration between Piriou and DCNS.

The military telecommunications satellite Egypt is interested in would be supplied jointly by Airbus Space Systems, part of Airbus Group, and Thales Alenia Space, owned by French arms firm Thales and Italy’s Finmeccanica, which was recently renamed Leonardo. Egypt had originally been reported to be in talks to buy two French military satellites, Reuters reported, including one telecommunications and one observation.

Egypt has ordered 24 Rafale fighter jets, with six already delivered, but La Tribune reported that an option for 12 more has not been discussed.

Egypt is France’s number one weapons customer. In just 18 months, Egypt ordered roughly $8 billion worth of French weapons and services. Cooperation began in early 2014 with the purchase of four Gowind corvettes, derived from the DCNS L’Adroit offshore patrol vessel. The value of the contract is estimated at about €1 billion, but the corvettes will also add €400 million worth of MBDA’s MICA Vertical Launch air-defence missiles and MM-40 Exocet anti-ship missiles, and DCNS’ torpedoes for €100-200 million. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2017.

In addition, in February 2015, Egypt became the first export buyer of the Dassault Rafale, with an order of 24 aircraft in a deal which also included a FREMM frigate and a large quantity of guided weapons to be supplied mostly by MBDA and also SAGEM. This package was estimated to be worth €5.3 billion. The first three Rafales were delivered in July 2015 and the FREMM frigate was delivered in June 2015.

Egypt’s submarine fleet is also being replenished with a contract for two German Type 209 submarines, in addition to the pair which will be delivered in 2017. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) has launched the first of four Type 209s in December last year.

In June and September the Egyptian Navy will take delivery of its two Mistral class landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels from DCNS, after Egypt agreed to buy the vessels that were originally destined for Russia.