A Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft takes part in a flying display during the opening of the 50th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris June 17, 2013 (Reuters)
In an official ceremony held at an airport in southern France on Monday, Egypt was provided with three Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighters from France, the first of 24 warplanes sold in a 5.2 billion euro ($5.6 billion) deal earlier this year.
"We feel proud after buying this effective jet and we are happy with this cooperation," said Egypt's ambassador to France, Ehab Badawi, referring to the recent bilateral military cooperation between Egypt and France. The cooperation was established last February after both signed a multi-billion-euro deal for the frigate, MBDA air-to-air missiles and 24 Rafale combat jets.
Egypt is the first country to buy the Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after months of failures by successive French governments to sell them. Qatar sealed a 6.3 billion Euro deal with the French government to buy 36 Rafale air jets last April.
Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said in the ceremony that the Rafale planes are considered the fourth jet model built by his firm. The fighters are being sold to Egypt just as the previous models of Alfa, Mirage 5, and Mirage 2000 were sold to the Egyptian Air Force.
"I believe that, given the current context, it’s very important that Egypt is able to act to maintain security and stability, not only stability on its own territory, but stability in the region,” French President Francois Hollande said in press statements following the signing of the agreement in February.
In March, Egypt delivered the first instalment of the deal. It requested the French firm to modify the Rafale air jets by removing the nuclear missile capability, according to Defense News's website.
The planes will be flown to Cairo by specially trained pilots on Tuesday. Press reports revealed that the second batch may be delivered between December 2015 and January 2016.