The Egyptian Navy officially took delivery of its first Mistral class landing helicopter dock vessel Gamal Abdel Nasser on Thursday from French shipbuilder DCNS.
The flag transfer ceremony took place in the presence of Egyptian and French Navies’ Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Rabie and Admiral Rogel, Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DCNS, and senior Egyptian and French officials at Saint Nazaire in France, including Egyptian defence minister General Sedki Sobhi.
DCNS said the Gamal Abdel Nasser will leave Saint-Nazaire in the next few days along with associated support vessels, namely two new-generation landing craft (CTM NG) and one EDAR fast amphibious landing craft.
Before sailing to its home port of Alexandria, the helicopter carrier will participate in a joint exercise between the Egyptian and French Navies. Since February, 180 Egyptian sailors have been trained in Saint-Nazaire on the Gamal Abdel Nasser with the support of DCNS instructors and STX France and Défense Conseil International.
The Mistral-class has a length of 199 metres and a speed exceeding 18 knots and is capable of transporting troops, equipment, heavy helicopters and landing craft. It is equipped with an electric propulsion system that uses pods. It also has an onboard hospital, and can carry out large-scale humanitarian missions.
France originally sold two Mistral class landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels to Russia, but after the sale was embargoed by the French government over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, the vessels were put up for sale. On 10 October 2015, DCNS signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the vessels.
Egypt is already a DCNS customer, having ordered four Gowind corvettes in July 2014 and in August 2015 delivered the FREMM multi-mission frigate Tahya Misr to the Egyptian Navy. By 2020, DCNS will have supplied at least seven combat vessels to Egypt. DCNS said it has multiannual maintenance contracts for the Egyptian vessels and is transferring technology by allowing Egypt’s Alexandria Shipyards to build three of the four Gowind corvettes ordered in 2014.
Egypt’s second Mistral helicopter carrier, named after the late Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat, will be delivered in September.
The Mistral sale is one of many d efence agreements with France, which is Egypt’s largest arms supplier. Last month Egypt purchased a military communications satellite from French companies Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Space Systems.
Egypt originally planned to acquire two satellites, for surveillance and telecommunications but in an effort to save costs it chose to acquire just the communications satellite, which can also be used for non-military purposes.