05 February 2016
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Kuwait Typhoon purchase delayed
Kuwait was to sign a $9 billion U.S. purchase for 28 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from Italy, but the Kuwaiti State Audit Bureau was reportedly concerned about the apparent lack of details into costs surrounding the fighter’s training schemes and maintenance infrastructure.
The delay is interesting. The Kuwaiti Air Force was originally interested in acquiring the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. However, a lack of serious activity on the U.S. government’s side to close the deal pushed Kuwait to pursue what it considered the closest alternative, the Eurofighter Typhoon.
In January two key U.S. senators, John McCain and Bob Corker, openly and seriously questioned the apparent delay in the possible sale (to Kuwait as well as a sale of F-15E Strike Eagles to Qatar). Moreover, the Kuwaiti Air Force still prefers the Super Hornet, with Abdullah al-Foudary, the commander of the Air Force, saying “The Super Hornet is one of the best solutions for us” as recently as 21 January 2016.
It is possible that the delay in the Typhoon purchase will be used in Kuwait to drive momentum towards the Super Hornet. If anything, it buys Boeing and its backers in Congress some extra time to drive genuine momentum behind a sales offer.
Egypt receives second batch of Dassault Rafale fighters
The Egyptian Air Force received a pair of two-seat Rafale DM fighters from France, raising its Rafale fleet to a total of five (out of a total of 24 ordered).
In recent months Egypt has been on a massive arms buying-spree. France in particular secured a number of lucrative big-ticket contracts in addition to the $6 billion U.S. Rafale order. These include a single FREMM multi-mission frigate, four (with an option for two more) Gowind 2500 corvettes or light frigates, and two Mistral-class helicopter carriers (originally meant for Russia). Germany and Russia also secured sales for Type 209 submarines and Ka-52 helicopters, respectively.
Following General Sisi’s takeover of the government, there has been an emphasis on building Egypt’s strike and expeditionary capabilities, as clearly evident in its acquisition of Rafale fighters and Mistral carriers. It will be worth seeing exactly what Egypt’s threat perceptions are for the medium and long-term, by which time these acquisitions will be fully harmonized within its wider doctrine. Could be military engagement overseas? Is it a reaction to the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the momentum that will generate for Tehran in modernizing its military?