Egypt is quietly building up its helicopter fleet by both upgrading the ageing units and purchasing new helos. The country’s existing Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters are being upgraded to the latest AH-64E Apache Guardian standard. Last year the U.S. State Department had made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Egypt to refurbish 43 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for an estimated cost of US$2.3 billion.
The United States, after a Strategic Dialogue with Egypt on November 9 this year, noted the significance of Cairo’s nationally funded contract to refurbish the Egyptian Apache helicopters, supporting hundreds of U.S. jobs and increasing Egyptian readiness.
EGYPTIAN AIR FORCE IS ALSO LOOKING AT UPGRADING
ITS FLEET OF KA-52 ATTACK HELICOPTERS NICKNAMED
ALLIGATOR. THE UPGRADE COULD BE TO THE “SUPER
ALLIGATOR” AS PLANNED BY THE RUSSIAN
In April 2019, the Russian Defence Ministry had signed a research and development contract with Russian Helicopters to upgrade the Ka-52 to Ka-52M or “Super Alligator”, based on the previous version “Alligator”. The prototype of the machine completed its maiden flight on August 10, 2020. The tests are expected to be completed in 2022.
The machines are used both on land and on Egyptian universal amphibious ships of the Mistral type. Egypt had acquired two helicopter assault ships from France and outfitted them with 46 Ka-52 attack helicopters from Russia. It is understood that Russia intends to further outfit Egypt’s Mistral-class amphibious assault ships with armament and Ka-52 helicopters, and both sides are currently in talks. Russia’s TASS news agency said that Cairo had declined the offer of European or American helicopters to equip the two helicopter carriers, and that Russia had offered modern armament, electronic warfare, and communications systems for the Mistrals, as well as the Ka-52K
In late August 2018, Alexander Mikheyev, head of Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport, had said that the company would soon start talks on supplying Ka-52K helicopters to Egypt. Interestingly, Italy has become one of the most important sources of armaments for the North African state, along with the United States, Russia, and France. Egypt has also become one of the key weapons importers in the Middle East. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) 2021 report, Egypt’s arms imports increased by 136 per cent between 2011–2015 and 2016–2020.
A fact sheet by SIPRI in 2020 notes that, “EGYPT WAS THE THIRDLARGEST
ARMS IMPORTER IN THE WORLD IN 2015–19. ITS ARMS IMPORTS ACCOUNTED
FOR 5.8 PER CENT OF THE GLOBAL TOTAL AND WERE 212 PER CENT HIGHER THAN IN
In order to modernize and diversify its arms arsenal, Egypt widened and enhanced its military relationship with different partners over the past eight years. It signed several arms deals with Russia and France.
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