Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the Rafale multirole aircraft, announced on Monday that the Egyptian contract to procure 30 additional Rafales had come into force. The company had announced the signing of the contract on 4 May 2021, which will expand the Egyptian Air Force’s fleet of Rafales to 54 aircraft once deliveries conclude, making it the second largest Rafale operator after the French Air Force.
Dassault says that the contract came into force upon the completion of the original Egyptian order of 24 Rafales, with the final airframes of the order delivered last year. That contract, signed in 2015, made the Egyptian Air Force the first export customer of the Rafale. It came with an option for an additional 12 Rafales, although the option was never exercised, allegedly due to skepticism of Cairo’s ability to repay state-backed loans at the time.
Deliveries of the 30 Rafales are expected to take place between 2024 and 2026, according to the French Defence Ministry. According to Cairo, the sale is underwritten by a 10-year loan, although the Egyptian defense ministry did not provide any additional details about the loan, including its value.
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation commented on the contract’s entrance into force:
“In a demanding geopolitical context, Egypt has chosen the Rafale to ensure its role as a key player in the regional and international arena, in full sovereignty. This is an honour for Dassault Aviation and its partners, who are fully committed to meeting the expectations of the Egyptian authorities.”
The 30 Rafales will be of F3-R specification, the most advanced Rafale currently available. The aircraft will be equipped with active electronically scanned radars and the ability to integrate a variety of sensors and weaponry, with Dassault understood to be equipping the Egyptian Rafales with a data link both capable of communicating with US and NATO systems, as well as the various other non-NATO compatible aircraft operated by the Egyptian Air Force like MiG-29s and Su-35s.
Egyptian officials that spoke to Breaking Defense in May have indicated that Cairo is interested in procuring the upcoming F4 specification of the Rafale. According to them, the Egyptian government is interested in further expansion of the Rafale fleet to 72 or 100 aircraft through purchases of the F4, “depending on Cairo’s financial capacity”.