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Enhancing military might
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 28 - 09 - 2017


اقرأ باللغة العربية
Egypt's armament plan is advancing according to schedule. Last Friday, the navy received Al-Fateh corvette from France. Cairo and Paris are moving ahead in their joint military cooperation and accordingly, the Alexandria Arsenal Company will produce four similar frigates.
Four years ago, Egypt had set a strategy and a timeframe to modernise and overhaul its armament programmes. This strategy aims to increase the expertise of the Egyptian soldier via the latest education programmes, to incorporate state-of-the-art technological systems to modernise military machinery, and to draw a military plan to defend security, economic and strategic targets and initiate, where necessary, pre-emptive strikes.
Egypt's armament plan is to update its military infrastructure on all fronts (the Armed Forces, Air Force, navy, etc) at the same time.
Developing the navy, Egypt received from France two Mistral-class aircraft carriers (dubbed Abdel-Nasser and Sadat). The two amphibious assault ships were outfitted by Ka-52 helicopters and naval vessels armed with modern missiles from Russia. The Red Sea southern fleet was also overhauled to be able to deal with growing threats, especially those resulting from Yemen's continuing clashes. At the same time, Egypt received two submarines from Germany to increase its naval defence power. Then came from France the FREMM Tahya Masr multi-mission frigate and Al-Fateh, a Gowind design.
There are several indications that Egypt is moving in the right direction in its armament plan. First, it acquired its new equipment from the countries best known for producing their kinds. For example, no other country can beat Germany in manufacturing submarines, so Egypt acquired two in addition to MiG fighters. France is a pioneer in manufacturing war ships and Rafale fighters, of which Egypt acquired four batches. Second, during joint military exercises, all the countries praised the stamina of the Egyptian soldier and his ability to quickly train to use modern military machinery. Third, Egypt chose wisely the latest and the most suitable military equipment to acquire. Al-Fateh, for instance, is the latest of its generation of frigates and is the best suited for the country's strategic demands. The Mistral-class aircraft carriers are the perfect accompaniment to Egypt's Red Sea southern fleet. Fourth, joint ventures in the field of military manufacturing increase Egypt's expertise, such as cooperation between the Alexandria Arsenal Company and France's Naval Group, from which Egypt received Al-Fateh corvette.
It is important to note that Egypt's armament goals are no longer aimed at securing the local front and the political borders defined by regional changes. A new dimension has been added which is securing economic targets, such as the case with defending Egypt's natural gas fields, like the Zohr field, in Egypt's waters which extend to 200 kilometres into the sea.
Egypt's definition of updating its armament capabilities is not confined to its machinery, but extends to raising the level of the soldier. Recently, Egypt engaged in four joint military manoeuvres. This week, Egypt's fighters engaged in the Faisal 11 exercises in the Gulf, right after the Protectors of Friendship trainings with Russia. In the recent weeks, Egyptian-US military manoeuvres, dubbed Bright Star, were held at the Mohamed Naguib Military Base, which was recently upgraded, along with Barrani Base, close to the country's northwest borders, outfitted to face threats coming from Libya. Bright Star preceded the Medusa 2017 exercises with Greece.


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