Egypt Military Space Projects
In September 2002 Egypt discussed with Libya helping fund a joint program for the manufacture and launch of a spy satellite. Officials said the Egyptian request was being discussed with Tripoli as part of the current talks on scientific cooperation. In August 2002 the Egyptian-Libyan Committee for Scientific Research examined a proposed joint fund to finance joint research programs. The discussions in Tripoli covered several subjects including remote-sensing satellites and space projects. The committee meeting was chaired by Egyptian Higher Education Minister Mofid Shihab and Libya's Matouk Mohammed Matouk. The Libya headed the Libyan People's Committee for Scientific Research. The committee is meant to implement agreements already signed for space cooperation and remote-sensing. The cooperation is meant to be limited to civilian rather than limited issues.
A Soyuz-U rocket carrying an Egyptian satellite, EgyptSat-2 [also called MisrSat-2], was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, 16 April 2014. The satellite was scheduled to separate from the rocket at 20:28 Moscow time (GMT+4), the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said. The 1,050 kg satellite is intended for high-resolution Earth remote sensing "for the benefit of agricultural, geological and environmental studies". This spacecraft remote sensing with high spatial resolution - up to one meter at a height of 700 km orbit. The new satellite is designed to work for 11 years. It was made by Russia’s Energia Space Corporation.
According to government spokesman Hossam El-Qawish, the new satellite EgySat aimed to support Egypt's "presence in space" and to increase new investment opportunities and enhance developmental project in the Arab region. The launch is also being used to establish the presence of Egyptian scientists and researchers in outer space, he added during a press conference held at the cabinet's headquarters in Cairo. Medhat Mokhtar, head of National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science, said that pictures of the satellite were supposed to have been revealed three years ago, but that the plan was halted, "given what the country is going through".
Cairo finalised on 15 May 2016 the purchase of a military reconnaissance and ?monitoring satellite, the third in a series of deals within the framework of ?Egyptian-French military cooperation. In 2015 Egypt successfully concluded ?contracts for Rafale fighter planes and Mistral-class helicopter carriers.? With this latest deal, France now topped the list of countries to have signed ?military supply agreements with Egypt during the term of President Abdel-?Fattah El-Sisi.? During French President François Hollande’s visit to Egypt in April 2016 the two ?countries signed numerous memoranda of understanding, marking increasingly ?close bilateral relations.
While France’s La Tribune broke the news of the military satellite deal, Cairo ?announced that a military delegation, headed by Minister of Military ?Production General Mohamed El-Assar, would sign the deal on behalf of ?Egypt. According to La Tribune, the other signatories are Thales Alenia Space ??(TAS), a Franco-Italian satellite and communications systems manufacturer, ?and Space Systems Airbus, which specialises in defence equipment.?
La Tribune said the contract for the military communications satellite, which it ?estimated as worth 600 million euros, crowned seven months of discussions ?and negotiations between Cairo and the two aerospace manufacturing firms. ?The newspaper added that Paris and Cairo signed numerous agreements during ?President Hollande’s visit to Egypt on 17 April 2016, which paved the way for this ?latest deal.?
A senior military expert from Egypt ?explained that the satellite Egypt has purchased is very sophisticated. It is, in ?fact, the most modern of the industrial technologies that Egypt now possesses.? He noted that while the satellite has been classed as military it is capable of ?performing both military and non-military tasks. It orbits at altitudes above ??700 km and is capable of taking images at an extremely high resolution.?
?“As far as military supplies are concerned, we are not just diversifying our ?armaments sources we have turned to China, Russia, France and Germany but ?more importantly there is a focus on upgrading military technologies,” General ?Hisham El-Halabi of the Higher Nasser Military Academy told Al-Ahram ?Weekly.? He added that the purpose of purchasing the satellite was to increase ?intelligence gathering resources to reinforce national security.?
General Chief of Staff Mohamed Qashqoush, academic advisor to the Regional ?Centre for Strategic Studies, agreed.? ?“The purpose of acquiring highly sophisticated technologies is to be able to ?manage the Egyptian strategic depth with as much precision as possible in the ?framework of completing our military systems and also military cooperation,” ?he said.?
Qashqoush said that the French satellite will work in conjunction with the ?Mistral naval vessels and facilitate navigation in the Bab El-Mandeb and in the ?Mediterranean, where maritime oil and gas fields were recently discovered.? He added that the Russian-made helicopters that Egypt has contracted from ?Moscow will complete the Mistral weapons system.?
Another important dimension of Egypt’s purchases of French-made ?technologies includes what Qashqoush terms the “African belt in which the ?French military command has a presence in such countries as Mali, Djibouti ?and Senegal”.? Egypt’s acquisitions “will enhance our ability to safeguard our western borders ?with Libya through closer tracking of the movement of extremist elements and ?enhanced communications with forces on the ground.” Said Qashqoush, ??“Egypt is situated in an environment teeming with tensions, crises, challenges ?and mounting dangers.”?
According to Qashqoush, French experts will train Egyptian teams in the ?management of the satellite.? ?“They have new knowhow in the field that they will impart to the Egyptian ?side. They will also offer instruction in the process of protecting the ?information in the satellite,” he said, stressing the need for Egypt to be able to ?secure information transmitted by the satellite.?
The absence of an Egyptian satellite had been the source of considerable ?controversy in recent years, reaching a peak when it was announced that the ?research satellite Egypt 2 had gone missing. Experts have openly speculated ?that Israel was most likely responsible, although there has been nothing to ?corroborate this. They suggested that the Israelis had probably sent a satellite ?of their own into the same orbit.
In the 1990s Israel obstructed an Egyptian-?French deal for the purchase of a satellite.? Israel is certainly interested in Egypt’s recent purchase from France. The ?Israeli army’s Israel Defence periodical has featured detailed coverage of this ?deal. It concluded that acquisition of the satellite would give a great boost to ?Egypt’s military communications.
La Tribune noted that Cairo entered into negotiations with Paris in December ??2015 initially for the purchase of two satellites: one for military ?telecommunications, the other for surveillance. A delegation from the Egyptian ?army headed to Paris around Christmas 2015 but the negotiations broke down over ?the question of costs.?
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