Egypt’s defense ministry confirmed on May 3 that it has signed a contract for the delivery of 30 Dassault Rafale fighters. The purchase is to be funded through a loan repayable over a minimum of 10 years. The value was not disclosed, but it has been reported through unofficial channels that the price tag is around $4.5 billion.
The Egyptian air force has been operating the Rafale since the first three were handed over at Dassault’s flight test facility at Istres-Le Tubé air base in southern France in July 2015. The Rafale was only officially ordered on February 16 that year, and the initial six aircraft—all two-seaters—were diverted from French air force production in order to fulfill Egypt’s desire to have the aircraft in service in time to participate in the August celebration of the Suez Canal expansion.
The initial order comprised 24 aircraft—eight single-seat Rafale EMs and 16 Rafale DM two-seaters—although one was subsequently lost in April 2019. They are operated from Gebel el Basur air base to the northwest of Cairo by the 203rd Tactical Fighter Wing, which parents the 34th and 36th Tactical Fighter Squadrons. Experience with the Rafale has been positive, and the statement accompanying the announcement of the second order references a number of attributes, including its “ability to carry out long-range tasks” and its cyber warfare characteristics.
Interest in acquiring the Rafale remains strong in a number of countries, including potential follow-on sales in India and Qatar (which has an option to double its current order for 36). Indonesia has also announced its intentions to purchase 36 or 48. In Europe, the Rafale is competing for new fighter requirements in Finland and Switzerland and has been evaluated in-country by both potential customers. At the end of April Dassault submitted its best and final offer for Finland’s HX requirement, along with competitors Boeing (F/A-18E Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler), Eurofighter (Typhoon), Lockheed Martin (F-35A), and Saab (Gripen E and GlobalEye).