Russian media have reported that Egypt signed a contract with Russia on the delivery of several dozen Su-35 multifunctional fighters of the 4++ generation. Journalists believe that together with MiG-29M/M2 fighters that were earlier supplied to Cairo they in the next few years will significantly increase combat potential of Egypt's Air Force that still operate outdated Soviet MiG-21 and Chinese J-7 aircraft. A contract to supply Su-35 is worth $2 billion, which makes the Arab republic one of the largest buyers of Russia's weapons.
There is nothing sensational about this report but one detail that we'll speak about later. Egypt for many years has successfully been mastering Russian military equipment. According to the Military Balance journal published in London, Egypt is armed with T-62 and T-55 tanks, which account to almost half of the country's armor fleet; however, they were produced back in the Soviet Union.
By the way, half of Egypt's armored personnel carriers were also Russian-made. Even field artillery is mainly Russian. Egypt has 122mm D-30 howitzers and 130mm cannons, 82mm, 120mm and 160mm mortars, air defense systems ranging from Strela and Igla MANPADS to Kub, Tor-M1, Pechora and Dvina air defense missile systems, as well as 250 ZSU-23-4 Shilka.
Egypt has recently bought Buk-M2E short-range and Antey-2500 and S-300V4 long-range air defense missile systems. Egypt's aircraft fleet includes not only American F-16 of various modifications and French Mirages but also 40 MiG-21 and the same number of MiG-29, which were mentioned earlier. Now they will get Su-35.
It also has not only Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters, but also 30 Ka-52K Katran helicopters that Russia is supplying to Egypt for the Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Anwar Sadat helicopter carriers of the Mistral class bought from France after it refused to transfer the ships that had been built specially for the Russian Navy to Moscow for political reasons. Katrans, by the way, were developed and produced specially for Black Sea and Pacific Ocean Mistrals. Now they fly in the skies over the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
Cairo's interest in Russian arms isn't limited to these weapons. The outdated armor fleet hints that one could soon hear about Egypt's purchasing Russia's T-90S or T-80U tanks, Russian anti-tank guided missile systems, multiple-rocket launchers and possibly S-400 air defense missile systems… But here there is no room for guessing. Apparently, Russian-Egyptian military and technical cooperation has been developing successfully after General Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi came to power in Egypt, and we'll many times see sensational purchases of Russian arms for the Egyptian army. And it will really become, as Russian experts say, one of the three largest importers of our military hardware. And maybe even its producer.
A Russian industrial zone is being created on the bank of the Suez Canal, where KamAZ trucks and other products are expected to be manufactured. Why not founding a joint Russian-Egyptian enterprise that will for example assembly armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles? There is similar experience with India, where BrahMos hypersonic anti-ship missiles are produced and where plants of the HAL Corporation make Su-30MKI fighters and T-90S tanks. But let's not jump ahead. Let's pay attention to another very important issue.
The United States of America after Donald Trump came to power has been very jealous of Russian arms supplies to the countries that it considers its land or tries to consider them as such. There were times when Washington allocated several billion dollars of budgetary funds for beneficial loan to Egypt so that it buys American military hardware. The USA still provides such loans amounting to $3 billion - $4 billion for example to Israel tying it to the American military industry.
For example, all Israeli's aircraft are American-made. The Israelis once tried to create their own single-engine supersonic fighter Lavi, but the Americans didn't let it join Israeli's army. It is now flying under the name of J-10 in the skies of China and Pakistan, but no one confesses to how it got there.
American loans to Egypt had been provided for quite a long period of time until Islamists came to power in Cairo. They were forced to surrender their positions to generals who came to power after the 2013 military coup. Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi, who became Egyptian president after the 2014 election, has taken up the course at approaching and cooperating with Russia, and American loans for purchasing arms under the Made in USA label have no longer been provided.
Noteworthy, it is a very serious step of the Egyptian leadership to choose Russia as the main military and technical cooperation partner instead of the USA. It is a well-known fact that Trump's salesmen - and Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and even former Secretary of Defense James Mattis are among them - to put it mildly put pressure on India and Turkey talking them out of buying Russia's S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems imposing American Patriot PAC-3 air defense missile system instead. They threatened applying sanctions and even refused to transfer F-35 fifth-generation fighters that were earlier paid for to Ankara, saying that S-400 will not fit the NATO air defense system. It didn't work out.
Turkey is buying a regiment of Triumfs worth $2.5 billion, India is buying two regiments worth $5 billion, and here comes Egypt that buys two dozen Russia's Su-35 multifunctional fighters of the 4++ generation that many experts believe are better than American F-35. This is quite an unpleasant blow on arrogant and ambitious officials in Washington.
And these are not just Turkey, India and Egypt that haven't yielded to Washington's pressure. There is Iraq that bought Russian arms worth $8 billion despite the fact that American troops are still present there. There is Indonesia that also ignored shouts from the USA and is buying Russian aircraft despite possible sanctions. There is Algeria that is having hard times but that is still buying Russian arms. Just as Libya whose generals are in a line to buy Russian military hardware.
Interestingly, the Middle East and Northern Africa, not to speak about other regions of the world where the USA has dominated recently, are slowly but increasingly steadier turning their face to Russia not only in the military and technical cooperation sphere. What's the reason? Is it Russia's successes in helping Syria in its fight against terrorists?
Is it the independent and sovereign policy of the Kremlin that firmly protects its national interests in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East regions? Is it the absence of politicking, blackmail and pressure in its policies? Is it respectful, equal and mutually beneficial dialogue with all partners? Probably.
One thing can be said for sure. Such Russia should be reckoned with, primarily, if we speak about so-called strategic partners across the ocean.