Last week an event was held at Gebel El Basur Air Base, roughly 50 miles northeast of Cairo, to celebrate the Arab Republic of Egypt Air Force (AREAF) reaching 10,000 flight hours with its fleet of Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft
In 2015, the AREAF became the first export customer of the Rafale when it placed an order for 24 aircraft - comprising 16 two-seat and eight single-seat aircraft - in a sale that was reportedly worth €5.2bn. This also included a complete weapons package including MBDA Mica air-to-air missiles, SAGEM AASM precision-guided bombs and MBDA SCALP-EG air-launched cruise missiles. The supply of the latter was hindered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and delayed an additional batch of aircraft, until a solution was found in February 2021.
Initial deliveries comprised three two-seat Rafale DMs (serials 9251, 9252, 9253), which were diverted from a previous French Air and Space Force order to allow for a quicker delivery schedule and arrived in Cairo on July 21, 2015, direct from Istres-Le Tube in France. Egypt’s first Rafale unit was No 34 Squadron 'Wild Wolves', a part of the 203rd Tactical Fighter Brigade. A further three aircraft arrived in January 2016; with the remaining 18 being delivered at a rate of roughly airframes five per year. The final Rafale was delivered to Egypt in July 2019. After resolving the ITAR issues (as stated above), Dassault confirmed a follow-on order on May 4, 2021, for an additional 30 aircraft; unconfirmed reports are that the split is 12 two-seat Rafale DMs and 18 single-seat EMs.
Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: "Egypt has chosen the Rafale, recognizing its unique ‘game-changer’ character, to ensure its role in full sovereignty as a key player in the regional and international arena, in a demanding geopolitical context. This celebration around the 10,000 flight hours of the Rafale salutes the great mastery of the Egyptian Air Force, the excellence of the Rafale, and honours Dassault Aviation, which has maintained strong relations with Egypt based on trust and commitment for nearly 50 years."