Egyptian Air Force Equipment Overview
Egypt has traditionally been attentive to its air force, second only to Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia in terms of equipment from the neighboring countries. For a long time, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, the USSR was the main supplier of modern aircraft to this country. When the 1973 war ended, Sadat repeatedly pressed the Soviets to replace Egypt's losses with more advanced aircraft that could rival the American aircraft being flown by the Israelis.
Then, after the decision of Anwar Sadat to reorient to cooperation with the West, Egypt received primarily American and Western European equipment, although Soviet machines remained in service. Angered by Soviet delays, Sadat ordered Mirage 5 aircraft from France and, later on, F-4E fighters from the United States. Deliveries of the latter began in mid-1979.
One of the first sales from the U.S. after the Camp David meetings was for two squadrons of F-4Es for the Egyptian Air Force. This sale characterizes an important aspect of the U.S. security assistance program to Egypt. The F-4s were sold as much for their political impact as for their military practicality. A far more practical aircraft to sell Egypt would have been F-5s -- cheaper, easier to maintain, easier to fly, and still effective. However, the F-5 wasn't as capable as the F-4, which was the aircraft IsraeL had beaten the Egyptian Air Force with in 1973. Therefore, the U.S. delivered the F-4s to the Egyptian Air Force despite the fact that they were unable to support that type of weapons system and despite the cost. It was politically important for the Egyptians to posses the same quality of equipment as the Israelis.
Egypt originally planned to purchase forty Mirage 2000s from France, but as of late 1989 no decision had been reached on acquiring the remaining aircraft. In the 1990s Egypt spent as much as 80 percent of US military aid on the air force. As part of the 'Peace Vector Program', the Egyptian air force made four orders of F-16s, totaling 190 planes. About 130 F-16s had arrived and the last batch, which was assembled in Turkey, started arriving around 1997. Egypt also obtained approval for the purchase of 21 F-16C aircraft.
Egyptians also acquired a modern helicopter fleet. The EAF ordered an initial batch of 24 McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in 1994, and was expected to take delivery of twelve more. These helicopters posses state-of-the-art night-flying equipment and carry up to 16 Hellfire antitank weapons and 38 rockets. These AH-64A attack helicopters are being upgraded to D Longbow version.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed 20 September, 2014 that the United States will deliver to Egypt 10 Apache helicopters to support that country's counter-terrorism efforts. The combat helicopters had been scheduled for delivery earlier in 2014, but Washington suspended it in 2013 after Egypt's new government cracked down on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi last year. In April 2014, the US announced it would lift the suspension.
In 1997 Egypt received SH-2G (E) anti-submarine helicopters to work with the navy. Egypt has enhanced its airborne early warning capabilities by taking delivery of five Grumman E-2C Hawkeyes. At the same time, the EAF began the process of trying to acquire ex-US Navy P-3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft to replace its Tu-16 Badger-Gs. No decision has yet been made on this program.
With the cooperation of Chinese and Western manufacturers, Egypt developed a major domestic industry that assembled aircraft and produced parts. The Egyptian and Pakistani governments reportedly agreed in November 2000 on a major bilateral defense trade agreement which involved the refurbishment of Egyptian Air Force (EAF) aircraft in Pakistan in exchange for the supply of Egyptian F-16A/B spare parts to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The deal, which had been in preparation for some time, was reportedly finalized by Pakistan Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf and senior Egyptian officials at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Doha on November 13-14, 2000. What was agreed, reportedly, included:
- The provision by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) at Kamra, near Islamabad, of major overhauls and upgrades of some or all of the airframes and engines of the EAF's 13 Dassault Mirage 5 E2 tactical fighters; appr. 45 Dassault Mirage 5 SDE tactical fighters; less than 6 Dassault Mirage 5SDR tactical reconnaissance aircraft; and 5 Dassault Mirage 5 SDD operational trainers at the Mirage Rebuild Facility, which is part of PAC;
- The provision by PAC of major overhauls and upgrades of some or all of the airframes and engines of the EAF's appr. 45 Chengdu F-7B Fishbed tactical fighters at the F-6 Rebuild Facility, part of PAC. [Although called the F-6 Rebuild Facility, it undertakes major work on A-5, F-6 and F-7 types.] As well, similar work would be undertaken on some or all of the EAF's appr. 400 Mikoyan MiG-21PFS, MiG-21PFM and MiG-21MF Fishbed tactical fighters; appr. 10 Mikoyan MiG-21R Fishbed tactical reconnaissance aircraft; and appr.12 Mikoyan MiG-21UM/US Mongol operational trainers; as well as appr. 50 Shenyang F-6 Farmer tactical fighters; 5 Shenyang FT-6 Farmer operational trainers.
- The provision by Pakistan Ordnance Factories, at Wah Cantonment, near Islamabad, of a range of ordnance and munitions for the Egyptian Armed Forces;
- Other as-yet unidentified goods and services to be provided by Pakistan to the Egyptian Armed Forces;
- Provision by Egypt of spare parts for the PAF's appr. 35 F-16A/B fighters.
Egyptian Air Force sources indicated in January 2001 that the EAF was to acquire a significant quantity of Karakorum K-8 advanced jet trainer/light strike aircraft from Pakistan, basically to replace its approximately 25 Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet MS1 advanced trainers and approximately a dozen Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet MS2 light attack aircraft.
The improvement of the Egyptian air force is not limited to combat planes. The Egyptian air force, according to Israeli military analysts, have adopted Western command and control, attack techniques, support and aerial combat roles as well as training, most of it at US facilities. The Egyptians have also purchased advance ordnance, avionics and accessories. Egypt's defense capabilities were greatly enhanced by the acquisition of 180 Hawk and 1,000 Hellfire II missile.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), AIR-1.4, SH-2G (E) Program Manager (PM) is responsiblefor the ongoing Program Management of the SH-2G(E) Program for the Gvernment of Egypt and forimplementing multiple programs to the SH-2G(E) weapon system, including Egyptian Depot LevelMaintenance (EDLM), upgrades, and tactics. The PM is also responsible for the development of a new SH-2G Search and Rescue (SAR) program for the Egyptian Air Force (EAF).
The EAF entered the third millennium with large upgrading and modifying programmers. The old L-29 was being replaced by advanced K-8E that will be locally built in Egypt and the German Group-105 will replace old HA-100 in the Egyptian air academy service. Egyptian Air Force: ongoing technical support, maintenance support and spare parts for C-130s, F-4s, F-16s, E-2Cs, CH-47s, Falcon Business Jets, Apaches, and Black Hawks. There are construction projects for air base infrastructure for the Egyptian Air Force. They also require control tower equipment and aircraft simulator support.
Egyptian Air Force ordered six C295 transport aircraft in January 2013. The aircraft were to be delivered from late 2013. In July 2014 Egypt ordered eight more Airbus C295 transports in a deal which would take its fleet to 20 and makes it the biggest customer for the tactical airlifter. The new batch of aircraft were to be delivered to the Egyptian Air Force by Airbus Defence and Space beginning in 2015 and followed the 12 aircraft previously ordered, of which six were already in service.
The contract also includes a service support package for spares, training, and maintenance of the fleet. The Egyptian Air Force selected the C295 because of its proven versatility, robustness and efficiency for daily transport missions combined with the ease of maintenance and low cost of operations particularly in the “hot and high” and dusty conditions found in the region. In Egyptian service the C295 is used for military and humanitarian missions such as the transport of civilian and military personnel as well as support to populations in remote areas or in emergency situations.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from power in Egypt in 2013, the US has halted its military aid to the country. Since then, Egypt has looked beyond the US for military equipment. The change of military-political orientation in these conditions became a natural process and primarily affected the procurement of modern weapons for the Air Force and Air Defense.
Cairo is developing cooperation with Moscow, despite the tightening of the US sanctions policy, which has already led to difficulties in implementing a number of contracts, both in the Middle East and in other regions of the planet. Experts note that one of the main reasons for this policy of the Egyptian leadership, including the country's president Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, may be distrust of the United States after the American leadership refused to support the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring. during the decades of being one of Washington’s most loyal allies in the region and in the world at large.
The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) ordered 50 MiG-29M2, which was the initial designation of the MiG-35. The contract was between both countries during the visit of Russian president Vladimir Putin to Egypt in February 2014. After the meeting, media reported that Russia and Egypt initialed a major contract which presupposed the delivery of high-tech Russian military products, including MiG-29 fighters.
The Chinese J-7 are to be replaced with modern JF-17 to be built under license in Egypt.
Egypt continues to return to basics: after a long period of equipping the Air Force with mostly Western equipment, the country's military leadership is reorienting the direction of procurement. The media reported 18 March 2019 on the conclusion of a contract for the supply of "more than 20" Su-35 fighter jets. The presence of the Su-35S as part of the Air Force will allow Egypt to maintain a place among the owners of the most advanced Air Force in the Middle East, especially when Saudi Arabia receives more modern versions of the F-15 than those that the US Air Force has, and Israel has already introduced the first F-35. Egypt became the third country to conclude a firm contract for the Su-35: before this machine was taken in China and Indonesia.
Egypt, in the event of maintaining the chosen course, most likely will not be limited to the first batch - given the number of combat aircraft in the Air Force of this country for 300 pieces, it will take a long time to change outdated Cairo machines. the Russian aviation industry has a chance to get at least half of this pie.
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