The United States of America has always been the major arms supplier for the Egyptian military since Camp David Accords. However, Egypt of Sisi is now trying to widen its military armament sources through importing weapons from Russia, marking a likely shift in Egypt’s arms imports.
Last week, a high-ranking Egyptian military delegation headed to Russia for meetings and discussions on bilateral military cooperation between the two countries. Egypt’s military delegation to Russia included Minister of Defense Sedky Sobhy and Minister of Military Production Mohamed Al-Assar.
This is the third meeting held by the Egyptian-Russian military committee. The first meeting took place in February when a Russian military delegation visited Cairo, and the second meeting was in Russia headed by Al-Assar.
During the visit, Russia’s top military official declared his full support to al-Sisi regime.
The Russian minister of defense Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoygu asserted his ministry’s full support to Egypt in combating terrorism in Sinai, according to Russia Today news network as cited by Daily News Egypt.
“Eliminating terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula and in Egypt will not only be beneficial to Egypt, but also for the whole region,” Shoygu said.
Shoygu said during the visit, Egypt is interested in providing its Armed Forces with the latest Russian weaponry and communication systems
“I am delighted to reveal that Egypt is interested in acquiring the latest Russian armament technologies. Evidently, the efficiency of Russian weaponry was apparent during the airstrikes executed by the Russian Air Force in Syria,” Shoygu explained.
Moreover, he referred to the bilateral manoeuvres between Egypt and Russia as a part of their “solid” military cooperation, adding that both countries will execute new manoeuvres in the field of counter-terrorism, Russian government-funded network RT reported.
In the same context, the Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said on the sidelines of the Army 2016 international military-technical forum, “Russia is considering an opportunity to start servicing military hardware in Egypt as well as localize military production in that country,” as reported by TASS.
Manturov added, “We have had long-term relations. We hope military-industrial production specimens that they can look at here will interest them,”
He said, “We said that besides direct supplies, we are ready to interact also in organization of service maintenance with the use of the potential and capacity of Egyptian defense industry sector enterprises.”
Manturov noted that Russian enterprises studied manufacturing capabilities of the Egyptian side. He said, “The plants are in a good condition, of course they require additional modernization, but they are capable of also ensuring assembly if the talk is about local production of some components and organization of joint production.”
Manturov explained that the talk could be about the joint assembly, production and servicing of hardware; enterprises could be upgraded for the start of that process.
TASS reported that “Russia and Egypt plan to hold joint research and development work in the sphere of military aviation, “according to Manturov.
The Russian industry and trade minister met with Egyptian Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy and Military Production Minister Mohamed al-Assar at the Army 2016 forum.
“Army 2016” -which is a large-scale military exhibition has opened outside Moscow-bringing together Russian defense industry and research representatives, and delegates from 80 countries. The Army-2016 military and technical forum will showcase the latest developments in weapons, military vehicles and technology for five days.
Moreover, Russia and Egypt have reached an agreement under which Egyptian pilots will be trained to fly the Kamov Ka-52K Katran (the naval version of the Ka-52 Alligator) attack helicopter, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported on 6 September, citing a source in military and diplomatic circles as reported by IHS Janes (the British publishing company specialized in military information).
“The ministers agreed on specific measures for the preparation of the Egyptian pilots for flying the ship-based Ka-52K,” it quoted the source as saying. The Egyptian side has until the end of the year to send the necessary documents to Moscow, and then Russia will develop a training programme, the source added.
The relation between Russia and Egypt has flourished after the military coup in 2013 led by al-Sisi against the first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt’s Armed Forces have previously signed an arms deal with the Russian Rosoboronexport armaments company for the sale and delivery of 46 attack helicopters.
Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport Deputy Director General Igor Sevastyanov previously stated that Russia will most probably provide equipment for Egypt’s Mistral-class helicopter carriers delivered from France.
In the same context, the Kremlin chief of staff said at an earlier time that Russia is expected to provide Egypt with more than $1 billion in equipment and helicopters for the two Mistral carriers.
Moreover, the Russian ambassador in Cairo Sergey Kerpichenko stated last June that he holds much information on the deadly arms deals between Egypt and Russia. He also pointed that the Egyptian minister of defense refuses to declare the military deals and contracts as they are considered special information. He added that Egypt and Russia are moving on the right path as Russia is ready to increase Egypt’s defense capabilities.