The office of French President Francois Hollande has announced a big defense deal with Cairo. The deal for 24 Rafale jets and a frigate comes amid growing crises in the Middle East.
French officials announced in Paris on Thursday that it would sell 24 Rafale fighter jets plus a frigate to Egypt as part of a 5.2-billion-euro ($5.93 billion) defense deal.
"Egyptian authorities just let me know today of their intention to buy 24 Rafale combat planes and a multi-mission frigate along with associated equipment," President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is set to travel to Cairo on Monday to sign the deal, according to the statement. "This equipment will allow Egypt to increase its security and play its full role in regional stability," Hollande said.
The Rafale jets are built by French manufacturer Dassault Aviation and have been used in Libya, Mali and Iraq in national and international missions.
The new contract would be Dassault Aviation's first overseas deal and will come as a relief to the company, which had yet to land a single foreign sale after nearly three decades of development.
There have been ongoing negotiations between the company and India since 2012 for the order of 126 Rafale jets. Dassault has also been in negotiations with Qatar. The French government has also reduced its spending on the jets for the French Air Force.
French-Egyptian ties have improved since the instatement of al-Sissi as president, and both are highly concerned about regional conflicts spilling over into Egypt, as well as the struggle against jihadis in Sinai.
sb/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)