Egypt details upgraded air fleet; new military campaign in N Sinai
Egyptian Air Forces

CAIRO:  In the celebration of 42nd Air Force Day, Egyptian Air Forces Commander Younis al-Masry previewed in his speech the latest air military deals between Egypt and other Asian and European countries in light of Egypt’s efforts to upgrade its military fleets.

The Egyptian Air Forces is aiming to upgrade its air fleet with developed Russian MiG-21 fighters and Mirage 5 aircrafts in the coming period, said al-Masry Tuesday in his speech.

During President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s term, Egypt and Russia enhanced their military cooperation, particularly in the field of airpower; Russian media outlets reported that both countries discussed in 2014 a purchase of MiG-35 fighter jets deal by Egypt.

In his 2-day visit to Moscow in February 2014, Sisi discussed the purchase of $2 billion worth weapons including anti-tank missile systems, military transport helicopters and gunships and MiG-29 fighter jets.

Regarding the French Rafale Fighter jets, al-Masry said the second batch was scheduled to be delivered to Egypt in 2016, but President Sisi has been pushing to receive it this year.

In July, France delivered the first three jets to Egypt, among the 24 ordered in a $5.9 billion agreement signed in February.

“No arms deal signed with the Egyptian army unless there is a real need for it; plus it represents a quantum leap for the Egyptian Military Forces and the Arab region entirely,” he said.

Cooperation with U.S.

“The relations between Egypt and U. S. are good,” al-Masry said, adding that the American side is “keen” to provide support to the Egyptian Army. The U.S. will deliver Egypt four F-16 fighter jets BLOCK 52 in October.

The U.S. delivered five M1A1 Abrams Tank turrets to Cairo East Air Base on July 31; and it sent eight F-16 Block 52 aircraft to Cairo West Air Base in July 30 and 31. Two U.S. missile crafts, worth $ 1.1 billion, were sent to the Egyptian navy in June to double its missile craft fleet to four.

Relations between both countries soured when the U.S. partially suspended its annual $1.5-billion aid, following the 2013 dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins. However, in April 2014, relations improved when the Pentagon announced that the suspended aid would be released. In November 2014, Egypt received 10 Apache fighter jets.

The Air Army will buy 24 CASA-class transport aircrafts, he noted. Aircraft Factory of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, affiliated to the Egyptian Armed Forces, is installing 80% of parts of the Chinese training aircraft K-8, al-Masry said.

A new scientific city for the Air force troops will be inaugurated soon, and all technical insurances will be covered for all kinds of weapons.

2nd Campaign of ‘The Martyr’s Right’

The Central Command of Air Forces is preparing a plan to launch a second campaign of the military operation “The Martyr’s Right” in restive North Sinai in light of “counter-terrorism efforts.”

In September, the Egyptian air and naval forces launched the campaign against the Islamic State affiliate insurgents in North Sinai’s towns of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.

Egypt has witnessed a significant rise in militancy since the military-backed ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule. According to the Interior Ministry, militant attacks have killed more than 500 security personnel since then.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Ahmed Tantway

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