More than nine months since his last visit, Francois Hollande finalises a deal with Egypt's Sisi for a super advanced military satellite.
According to Al Ahram, French President Francois Hollande and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have signed the third in a series of deals securing the purchase of a sophisticated satellite for monitoring and military survey on Tuesday in Cairo. Alongside the satellite, French experts will also train the Egyptian teams in managing and protecting the information of the satellite. This marks Egypt's entry into the space race to obtain satellites and improve its military surveillance technology; the UAE launched a space agency in 2014, Israel owns various satellites for military use, and Iran has at least six satellites already launched in space.
Egypt, now literally aiming for the stars, seeks to improve the field in which it severely lacks, and this latest deal within the framework of Egyptian-French military cooperation strengthens France’s post as one of the top providers of military supplies to Egypt.
France’s La Tribune broke the news of the military satellite deal first, which then prompted Cairo officials to announce that a military delegation, headed by Minister of Military Production General Mohamed El Assar, would sign the deal on behalf of Egypt. The military communications satellite, presumably extremely highly advanced and capable of taking images at an extremely high resolution, is estimated to be worth 600 million Euros and was agreed upon after several months of negotiations between Cairo and the two aerospace manufacturing firms, Airbus Space Systems and Thales Alenia Space.
Initially, there were plans to provide two satellites for Egypt: one designed for military telecommunications, the other for surveillance. However, the Egyptian delegation found the costs steep and opted for one satellite that could also be non-military. This is the third satellite for Egypt after the Ukrainian-made EgyptSat 1 and the inoperative EgyptSat 2.
Military authorities explained that the satellite’s purpose is to increase intelligence gathering means in order to reinforce national security, namely by monitoring border activities.
“The purpose of acquiring highly sophisticated technologies is to be able to manage the Egyptian strategic depth with as much precision as possible in the framework of completing our military systems and also military cooperation,” said General Chief of Staff Mohamed Qashqoush, Academic Advisor to the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies told Al-Ahram.
Bilateral relations between France and Egypt have strengthened during President el-Sisi term; only last year Egypt successfully concluded contracts for 24 Dassault Rafales fighter planes and Mistral-class helicopter carriers. Egypt has so far received seven of these planes, of which the first batch of four, which arrived in August 2015, took part in the new Suez Canal’s inauguration celebration during the summer of 2015. Three more have since arrived in January.