Our Bureau
05:21 PM, February 16, 2015
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France has closed a €5.2 billion ($5.9 billion) contract for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt, in what is the first foreign order of the French-built warplanes.

France and Egypt have signed contracts valued at €5.2 billion ($5.9 billion). The contracts include the sale of 24 Rafale from Dassault, FREMM multi-mission frigate by DCNS and Air-to Air Missile, Scalp cruise missile by MBDA and Sagem.

Thales, a member of the Rafale team with both Dassault Aviation and SNECMA (Safran), equips the combat aircraft with systems providing it with a multi-sensor capability such as the RBE2 AESA, the first European combat radar with active electronic scanning antenna, the SPECTRA electronic warfare system, optronics, the communication, navigation, identification suite, avionics, and the power generation systems.

The other contracts include a 2ASM air to ground missile from Sagem and Lacroix for Rafale decoy systems.

Egypt will be paying 50 percent of the amount and the rest by a loan from French Banks. Egypt has to deposit an estimated €500 million in a month,

Egypt has decided to boost its air forces with Rafale fighter jets amid the intense conflict raging across neighboring Libya. Since the overthrow of long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a number of militia groups have been involved in a power struggle in Libya. Two de-facto governments are currently operating in the country.

The deal with Egypt is considered as a catalyst for its deals with other countries mainly India.

“We are "very confident" that three years of exclusive talks with India on the sale of 126 Rafale jets worth 12 billion euros would soon result in a deal,” Eric Trappier, chief executive of Dassault Aviation said.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian travels to Egypt’s capital Cairo on Monday to sign the contract, which France hopes will lead to further sales of its premier combat jet.

French President François Hollande said the agreement – clinched in only three months of negotiation – provided Cairo with "a quality aircraft" and was important for Egypt "taking into account the threats existing around the country."

The threat from IS group linked militants and Libyan unrest can be a reason for the upgrade. France is also hoping the deal will act as a catalyst to unblock hoped-for sales to other countries.

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