The Egyptian Navy has recently taken delivery of its second Mistral landing helicopter dock (LHD) – the Anwar el-Sadat – from France on Monday (19 September 2016).
Notes, Comments & Analysis:
Originally built for Russia, Egypt had bought the two Mistral LHDs in March as part of a multi-billion dollar arms purchase with France. The first Mistral LHD, the ENS Gamal Abdel Nasser, was delivered to Egypt in June. Egypt is also reportedly in talks with Russia for Ka-52 attack helicopters for use with the LHDs.
Egypt’s rationale behind acquiring the Mistral LHDs is not known or clearly understood. Some analysts have assumed that it may be in relation to the Saudi and UAE-led operations in Yemen against the Houthis and Al Qaeda, respectively.
Alternatively, one could also point to the nature of Egypt’s maritime reality, such as the Suez Canal and Gulf of Suez; LHDs can be used to transport complete aviation, armour, and infantry groups in relatively short order in that vicinity. The LHDs may be used to fortify the Egypt’s counterinsurgency capacities along the Suez coastline by imbuing it with a rapid reaction force that can freely function in the gulf.
With the support of France’s DCNS and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany, Egypt is in the process of comprehensively modernizing its navy. Having recently inducted a single FREMM multi-mission frigate, the Egyptian Navy is also expecting four Gowind 2500 corvettes.
The first Gowind 2500 was just launched for sea trials last week in France. Three of the ships will be built in Egypt, the steel for the first one was cut in April at the Alexandria Shipyard in Egypt. Cairo has an option to procure two additional corvettes. Navy Recognition has details into how Egypt’s Gowind 2500s will be configured; the vessels will be capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine, and short-range anti-air warfare.
Four TKMS Type 209/1400 diesel-electric submarines (SSK) are also on order from Germany; the first of these ships was launched for sea trials in December.
The only explanation is the following:
“Defense News has previously reported that Saudi Arabian funding is behind the defense build-up, including this latest deal. Earlier this month, French officials said the Egyptian Navy would serve as a proxy naval force for the Saudis.”
The sole purpose of these vessels is to help the Saudis transport Egyptian “allies” (i.e. mercenaries) around the region more efficiently. All enemies of Saudi Arabia (Iran, Bahranian shias, Iraq shias, Yemeni Houthis etc.) should take note. Also, any domestic insurgencies that might pop up would be dealt with by massive Egyptian deployments (they hope.) This is Saudi Arabia bankrolling it’s own security, by investing in mercenaries, like the Papal States from the middle ages.
Maybe history repeats again like in 1960s Jordan and Saudi Arabia supplied military aid, and Britain gave covert support, warplanes from the Soviet Union. Gamal Abdel Nasser, with 70,000 Egyptian troops invaded Yemen but lost the war and withdraw troops, countries like Afghanistan and Yemen are not a cake on the plate!