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11 Dec 20. Trump administration moves forward with $1bn Moroccan arms deal. President Donald Trump’s administration moved forward with $1bn in sales of drones and precision-guided weapons to Morocco on Friday, sending a notice to Congress about the potential deals, according to sources familiar with the notification.
The deal includes four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones made by privately-held General Atomics, and Hellfire, Paveway and JDAM precision-guided munitions made by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing, the sources said.
Reuters was first to report on Thursday that Washington was negotiating the sale and would notify Congress shortly.
News of the deal came as the White House announced an agreement brokered with U.S. help for Morocco to normalize relations with Israel.
Earlier this year the U.S. offered stealthy F-35 jet fighters to the United Arab Emirates in a side deal to the U.S.-brokered agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize relations.
Congress is notified about major international weapons deals and given the opportunity to review them before they go through. Under U.S. weapons export law, members of Congress can attempt to block such sales by offering resolutions of disapproval, but sources said that was not expected in this case.
A deal with Morocco would be among the first drone sales after the Trump administration moved ahead with a plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
This fall drone sales moved ahead to Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. An effort to block the UAE sale failed in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. (Source: Reuters)
11 Dec 20. The Polisario Front said it was returning to war because Morocco had breached a 1991 ceasefire agreement by sending forces into a demilitarised area. A forgotten conflict on the fringes of the Sahara desert is heating up — and Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed territory is set to make it worse. The US recognition of Rabat’s claim to Western Sahara — in return for Morocco’s normalisation of relations with Israel — risks aggravating fighting between the Polisario Front, which wants independence for the region, and Moroccan troops manning a 2,700km-long fortified sand wall that divides the desert land, diplomats and analysts say.
“I think we can safely say that this move makes the resolution of the current bout of violence much harder,” said Riccardo Fabiani, north Africa director at International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank. “This will also make Sahrawi youths more angry, mobilised and committed to resolving the conflict through force.” Fighting resumed last month after the end of a 30-year ceasefire. Polisario said it was returning to war because Morocco had breached a 1991 ceasefire agreement by sending forces into a demilitarised buffer strip. The purpose of the Morocco incursion was to clear Sahrawi protesters blocking a key highway for trade to sub-Saharan Africa.
“We are now in a state of open war,” said Sidi Omar, Polisario’s representative at the UN. “We are firing at static Moroccan targets along the wall. Our main objective is still the liberation of Western Sahara. We did not want this war but Morocco has been emboldened by the inaction of the international community.” The hostilities could spiral out of control leading to a full-blown war that might even draw in neighbouring Algeria — the main sponsor of the Polisario Front. This would deepen instability in an already troubled region, where Libya is embroiled in a civil conflict that has drawn in mercenaries and foreign powers and Mali has been fighting a jihadi insurgency in the Sahara, diplomats say. “For now, this is a low-intensity conflict but it could escalate,” said a western diplomat. “Algeria could at some point join the battle to support Polisario. We are talking here about the risk of a regional conflict.”
For its part, Rabat, which has received an enormous boost from the US endorsement, denies there has been any fighting at all. “These reports are unfounded,” a Moroccan diplomat told the Financial Times. “Morocco is attached to the ceasefire and to the political process.” About 600,000 people live in Western Sahara, a desert roughly the size of the UK. When Spain, the former colonial power, withdrew from the territory in 1975, Morocco took it over. Polisario engaged in a 16-year war with the kingdom that ended with a ceasefire and plan for a referendum on independence. That process has been stalled for decades because the two sides have failed to agree on who is eligible to vote. I am deeply sad and frustrated as I am clearly seeing that no way of peace has been left to my people but the armed struggle Sahrawi activist The kingdom controls more than two-thirds of Western Sahara and all its main urban centres, with the Polisario Front controlling the mainly uninhabited fringes near the borders with Algeria and Mauritania. Morocco mines phosphate in the territory and has poured billions into housing and infrastructure.
About 180,000 Sahrawi refugees live on international aid in bleak camps in southwestern Algeria, where Polisario set up the government in exile of its self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Analysts and diplomats attribute the return to fighting to Polisario’s frustration with the absence of a political solution on the horizon. Moroccan officials have been saying for years that the referendum plan is obsolete and in 2007 offered autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, an option dismissed by Polisario.
The kingdom has been supported by powerful allies such as France, and an increasing number of countries have recognised its sovereignty over the territory by opening consulates in Moroccan-administered Western Sahara, most recently Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Mr Fabiani pointed out that language used in recent UN Security Council resolutions spoke of “a pragmatic and realistic resolution to the conflict — a coded way of supporting Morocco’s plan”. He said Polisario had realised the peace process did not exist any more and international attention was dwindling. Blocking the road to Mauritania, he noted, deprived the kingdom of its only land link to African markets that have been the target of its economic expansion in recent years.
“The road through the buffer strip was never part of the ceasefire agreement and Polisario is angry that the security council says it needs to be protected,” said Mr Fabiani. “They see it as a fait accompli that was allowed without negotiation.” Morocco rules the vast swaths of Western Sahara it administers with a tight grip. Amnesty International noted last month that access to the territory for human rights monitors and independent journalists had become increasingly difficult. Amnesty also cited organisations in the territory saying that Moroccan authorities mounted a crackdown on peaceful protesters after recent fighting. An activist with the Nushatta Foundation for Media and Human Rights, a citizen-journalist group, speaking from inside the territory, told the FT that about 35 people had been arrested for taking part in protests and two members of his group had gone into hiding because police had raided their homes.
The Moroccan diplomat said this was “fake news” and denied there was a crackdown. “We are positive there is no such thing,” said the official. “Despite the acts of some individuals, Moroccan authorities are observing tremendous restraint.” For the activist, who describes his group as pro-self determination, the US announcement was yet another crushing affirmation that the referendum would never happen. “I am deeply sad and frustrated as I am clearly seeing that no way of peace has been left to my people but the armed struggle,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
09 Dec 20. UK Minister reiterates UK commitment to Somalia and the region’s response to the threat of Al-Shabaab. Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP visited Mogadishu where he announced new UK contributions to support Somalia’s long-term security and stability. UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP, visited Mogadishu this week where he underlined the UK’s continuing commitment to Somalia’s long-term security and stability, and the world’s poorest, with new UK support worth £21.8m ($29.2m).
In the first visit to Somalia by a UK government Minister since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the first visit since the UK created a single Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to bring together diplomacy and development – Mr Duddridge met President Mohamed Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohammed Roble. They discussed the upcoming federal elections, including the importance of timely and inclusive elections, as well as progress on economic and security sector reform.
In discussions on UK support for Somalia’s operations against Al-Shabaab, the Minister announced new UK contributions to support the Somali Security Forces worth £1.6m ($2.15m) to counter the threat from roadside bombs.
The Minister met British troops training the Somali army, and reiterated UK support for the African Union in securing and protecting regional stability. He said that the UK would contribute a further £3.37m ($4.5m) for the Somali Security Forces engaged in joint operations with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
The Minister also met development and humanitarian partners working to protect the resilience, health and stability of Somalia’s communities – and announced a comprehensive package of UK support.
- £3.8m ($4.9m) to help the thousands of Somalis recently displaced by catastrophic flooding. This is in addition to long-term UK aid-funded food assistance, emergency healthcare and shelter for the country’s most vulnerable
- £5m ($6.7m) to support cash-based food assistance for approximately 123,000 vulnerable, food insecure people. This funding will be channelled through WFP Somalia
- A further £8m ($10.3 m) to support Somalia’s health services, with a focus on antenatal care and vaccinations. So far this year, UK aid has helped over 120,000 Somali women receive antenatal care, ensured a skilled birth attendant was present for the delivery of 90,000 babies, and vaccinated 100,000 children against the most common childhood killers
UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, said, “The UK is a proud partner on Somalia’s journey towards stability and security – from British troops training alongside the Somali Army, to the life-saving UK aid programmes that are safely delivering babies and vaccinating against disease, as well as providing those in desperate need with food assistance. We remain committed to African efforts to secure and protect regional stability, and today I can announce new UK support to those working alongside the African Union’s peacekeeping mission here in Somalia. Working together, we can tackle the forces who threaten stability across East Africa and around the world.”
- The UK Minister for Africa visited Somalia on 8 and 9 December
- A biography of the Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP, can be found here
- The further £3.8m humanitarian funding for Somalis displaced by catastrophic flooding will support the provision of cash-based assistance to the most vulnerable and much needed relief supplies for the many thousands of Somalis recently displaced by catastrophic flooding. This is part of the UK’s £324m four year humanitarian programme from 2018 to 2022 which also provides food assistance, emergency healthcare, nutrition, shelter, and protection for the most vulnerable
- The further £8m for the provision of health services, such as antenatal care and vaccination, in Somalia brings the UK’s total health spending from 2016 to 2021 to £96.9m
- The further £5m ($6.7m) to support cash-based food assistance comes from the UK’s Crisis Reserve, a £61m funding package recently approved by the Foreign Secretary, targeting 12 countries with rising levels of food insecurity (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Dec 20. North Atlantic Council statement on the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations. The recent agreement between the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban on the rules and procedures for Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and the first meeting of the Leadership Committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation are important steps toward a comprehensive and lasting peace in Afghanistan, which is the unequivocal demand of the Afghan people. We urge the parties to build on this momentum by agreeing to immediately end violence and by negotiating toward a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and a political roadmap for a prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbours.
After four decades of conflict and suffering, a negotiated political settlement offers the only hope for a lasting peace. Violence, especially driven by Taliban attacks, continues to undermine the peace process and must end.
We expect negotiations to lead to an enduring and comprehensive Afghan peace agreement that puts an end to violence, builds on the progress of the last 19 years, safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities, upholds the rule of law, and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.
NATO and its partners reaffirm our commitment to Afghanistan, the Afghan people, and Afghanistan’s security forces. We call on the Afghan government and the Taliban to fulfill their commitments to the peace process initiated by the U.S.-Taliban agreement and the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration.
We will continue to consult on our military presence and, if conditions allow, to adjust it to support this Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. We went into Afghanistan together, we are adjusting together, and only when the conditions are right, we will leave together.
We stand with the Afghan people in their yearning for peace. (Source: NATO)
08 Dec 20. British Soldiers Deploy to Mali. Light Dragoons and Royal Anglians on African Peacekeeping Mission. A UK task force has arrived in Mali to join the UN peacekeeping mission where they will provide a reconnaissance capability. The force is primarily drawn from the Light Dragoons alongside the Royal Anglian Regiment and supported by specialist trades from across the Armed Forces.
The UK Task Force will provide a highly specialised reconnaissance capability, conducting patrols to gather intelligence and engage with the local population to help the UN respond to threats from violent extremism, and weak governance.
Mali is divided by an ongoing armed conflict – the Malian Civil War – that started in January 2012 between the northern and southern parts of the country. Since then, the Tuareg people in the north have been fighting to establish an independent homeland of Azawad against Islamic extremists, with factions fighting under the banners of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The UN Mission in Mali is made up of over 14,000 peacekeepers from 56 different countries and works to support peace efforts, encourage security sector reform, protect civilians and promote human rights.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “As a permanent member of the UN Security Council this deployment is a demonstration of our firm commitment to peacekeeping and the importance we place on improving security in the Sahel by protecting local communities. Our land forces are the best in the world, and we are one of a small handful of nations able to provide this specialist capability in a challenging environment which will help prevent the spread of conflict across the region.”
The main body of troops arrived on 2nd December and all UK personnel will have arrived by 8th December to set up the UK Headquarters. They have flown from RAF Brize Norton by A400M aircraft to the UN camp in Gao. They will be based in the newly formed Camp Bagnold, which is named after Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold, the desert explorer and first Commanding Officer of the British Army’s “Long Range Desert Group.”
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, Commanding Officer of the Light Dragoons, said, “The 300 strong Light Dragoon task group is joining over 14,000 peacekeepers from 56 Nations as part of this challenging UN mission in Mali to help protect the people from violence and support political dialogue. We bring years of experience on operations, first class equipment and exceptional people. We’ve trained hard for the last year to make sure that we are ready for this challenging mission. We’re proud to be the first British soldiers to join in this team effort to help combat instability in the Sahel.”
The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions. It is marked by chronic poverty, instability, high levels of gender inequality, and is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Terrorist violence and conflict is sharply on the rise. It is in all our interests that we work together to protect civilians and help build a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for the region.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:
This new deployment of 300 British troops to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali is part of our ongoing work in the Sahel region to build stability, improve the humanitarian response and help protect innocent civilians from violence. British troops will reinforce our development and diplomatic work, to maximise our impact on the ground.
The UK is one of the largest humanitarian donors to the Sahel region. In 2020, the government gave £14,650,000 of British taxpayers money to Mali and is currently in the process of spending more to increase the size of the UK embassy to reinforce diplomatic strength in the country.
Alongside this, the MoD currently has 3 Chinook helicopters and 100 personnel in a logistics role supporting the French-led Counter-Terrorist mission, Operation BARKHANE. This is entirely separate from the UN mission, but they will be operating in the same region. (Source: Warfare.Today)
08 Dec 20. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in 2020 total $5bn amid China tensions. The United States government has so far announced $5.1bn in arms sales to democratically-ruled Taiwan in 2020, to the anger of China which claims the island as its own territory. Here is a timeline of the weapons packages as notified by the U.S. government to Congress:
Dec. 7 – A Field Information Communications System worth $280m.
Nov. 3 – Four aerial drones worth $600m, in the first such sale since U.S. policy on the export of sophisticated and closely guarded drone technology was loosened by the Trump administration.
Oct. 26 – One hundred Boeing Co-made Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems in a deal that has a potential value of up to $2.37 bn.
Oct. 21 – Three weapons systems, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8bn.
That announcement covered truck-based rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment made by Boeing, and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for jets. (Source: Reuters)
04 Dec 20. Russian peacekeepers have started de-mining the southern outskirts of Stepanakert, the capital of strife-torn Nagorno-Karabakh.
Military personnel of the International Mine Action Centre of the Russian Defence Ministry continue to work on engineering reconnaissance and mine clearance in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
During the day, Russian peacekeepers cleared a large area of land on the southern outskirts of the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, of explosive objects. During an engineering survey of the area, 10 cluster munitions were found.
Detected explosive objects, abandoned or non-exploded ammunition are taken to a specially equipped landfill and destroyed. Ammunition that cannot be safely evacuated is destroyed on site with the necessary security measures in place. In total, engineering units in Nagorno-Karabakh have cleared more than 45 hectares of terrain, more than 14 kilometres of roads, and more than 1,120 explosive objects have been found and neutralised.
In accordance with the agreements specified in the joint statement of the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, a complete cease-fire and all military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh were declared from 00:00 Moscow time on November 10 this year.
The Russian peacekeepers provide the security of the return of the citizens to their places of permanent residence, the humanitarian aid, the restoration of civil infrastructure facilities. With the assistance of Russian peacekeepers, the restoration of vital engineering communications continues in the areas affected by the war. More than 2,000 metres of power transmission lines, seven power transmission towers, 1,600 metres of a gas pipeline, 1,200 metres of communication lines, and one transformer substation were restored per day. (Source: joint-forces.com/Russian Federation MoD Directorate of Media Service and Information)
07 Dec 20. UK’s First Sea Lord concludes visit to Alexandria. UK First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin, concluded a short official visit to Alexandria, Egypt. The visit to Alexandria, which is the first for the Head of United Kingdom’s Royal Navy and Naval Service, aimed to boost UK-Egypt maritime cooperation and discuss aspects of common interest between the two nations’ navies.
During his visit, Admiral Tony Radakin met with Commander of the Egyptian Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Ahmed Khaled Hassan Saeed, and was accompanied by British Defence Attaché Captain (Royal Navy) Stephen Deacon. The two countries’ naval leaders discussed topics of common interest including the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, maritime security, and future bilateral naval engagements.
Commenting on the visit, British Defence Attaché Captain (Royal Navy) Stephen Deacon said, “This visit from the First Sea Lord, Head of the UK’s Royal Navy, is yet another sign of the growing development in UK-Egyptian naval cooperation following the success of last month’s joint maritime and amphibious exercises. Recently, we have seen visits from our Minister for the Armed Forces, from the flagship of the Royal Navy, HMS ALBION, and from one of the newest ships in the fleet, HMS TRENT. Now our most senior naval officer has also visited Egypt. Maritime security is at the top of both countries’ agendas for cooperation, and by working together, we are better equipped to face shared challenges.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Dec 20. E3 Statement on the JCPoA. E3 Statement on the JCPoA: Response to Iranian plans to expand its nuclear programme and restrict access of IAEA monitoring.
We, the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom have worked tirelessly to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). It is a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy and the global non-proliferation architecture. We negotiated the JCPoA with the conviction that it would decisively contribute to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as to international peace and security. It remains the best, and currently the only, way to monitor and constrain Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the JCPoA and deeply worrying.
Furthermore, we have taken note, with great concern, of the recent law passed by the Iranian Parliament, which – if implemented – would substantially expand Iran’s nuclear programme and limit IAEA monitoring access. The measures would be incompatible with the JCPoA and Iran’s wider nuclear commitments.
If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps. Such a move would jeopardise our shared efforts to preserve the JCPoA and risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US Administration. A return to the JCPoA would also be beneficial for Iran.
We will address Iran’s non-compliance within the framework of the JCPoA. We welcome the statements by President-elect Biden on the JCPoA and a diplomatic path to address wider concerns with Iran. This is in all our interests. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Dec 20. Australian Defence Industry Minister announces push to cut red tape to support defence procurement. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price has unveiled new plans to cut red tape with the release of the terms of reference for a comprehensive review of Defence procurement.
The review into the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) and Defence procurement will seek to strengthen the way Defence does business with defence industry and ensure it has a fit-for-purpose procurement system in place.
Minister Price said the review was timely as the Morrison government continued to roll out $270bn in Defence capabilities over the next decade.
“Working to cut red tape is a key part of our ‘Five Pillars’ strategy to support defence industry through the COVID-19 challenges and beyond. It’s the result of our ongoing dialogue with the sector over many months designed to help them grow their business and deliver strong defence capability,” Minister Price said.
The goals of the ASDEFCON and Defence Procurement Review are to fully examine defence industry’s views on how Defence approaches the market at all stages of a procurement.
“By reviewing Defence’s suite of contracting templates, its procurement practices and processes, we can deliver a simpler and less burdensome procurement system. We continue to back our men and women in uniform by delivering the capability they need to keep Australians safe,” Minister Price explained.
The terms of reference for the review and process for consultation can be found here: https://www1.defence.gov.au/business-industry/procurement/contracting-templates/asdefcon-suite#ASDEFCON%20and%20Defence%20Procurement%20Review
Minister Price said industry and stakeholders would be engaged and consulted as part of the strengthening of defence procurement.
“This is an opportunity for defence industry to put forward ideas, solutions and feedback to improve what is a critical system for Defence,” Minister Price added.
The review is expected to be finalised by mid-2021, with a summary of the key findings to be released after consideration by the government. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Dec 20. Indonesia Nears Order for 36 Rafales: Minister. Negotiations with Indonesia for the purchase of 36 Dassault Rafale fighters are “very well advanced…[but] the contract has not yet been completely finalized,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a Dec. 3 television interview.
“If this order materializes, it will be good news for the 500 French companies which work on the Rafale program. It is very well advanced,” she told BFM TV, confirming an earlier report posted on the La Tribune financial website.
Indonesia has been shopping for a new fighter for some time, and had previously been reported to have signed deals for Russian Su-35S and F-16V Vipers, but neither was finalized. Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto in October spent over two weeks meeting prospective suppliers in the U.S., Austria, France and Turkey, Nikkei Asian Review reported reported Nov. 12.
Subianto met with Parly on October 21, and again confirmed his keen interest in the Rafale, La Tribune reported Dec. 3, adding that its sources said “the Indonesians want to move very quickly and would even like an agreement before the end of the year, while French negotiators want to take a little more time to complete a meticulous agreement.” Parly and Subianto spoke again by telephone on November 26, according to her official agenda.
The two ministers had already had at the beginning of the year (January 13) an exchange described at the time as “fruitful,” La Tribune reported, during which Subianto expressed an interest for 48 Rafales, up to four Scorpene submarines and two Gowind corvettes. Today, Indonesia has reduced its plans, and is considering the purchase of five submarines on the naval side.
Other potential deals for Rafales
“We are in talks with many countries” for Rafale, Parly told BFM TV, adding that “Greece, Finland and Switzerland want to renew their combat aviation, and have issued bid requests that should be finalized next year.”
Greece didn’t open a competition, but Prime Minister Kyriákos Mitsotakis announced in September that he had negotiated a direct deal for 12 used and six new Rafales, for which a contract is due to be signed by the end of the year if the Greek Parliament approves the necessary funding before the Christmas recess.
France has also offered Croatia 12 second-hand Rafales, which are competing with new-build Lockheed F-16 Block 70s, new Saab Gripen C/Ds and used Israeli F-16 Block 30 jets. The winner is due to be announced on Dec. 12.
Parly met with her Croatian colleague Mario Banožić in Zagreb on Nov. 23 to discuss defense cooperation issues, and later also met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
“This is my second visit to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia. I would like to emphasise that the France and Croatia have a successful bilateral co-operation, especially of the navies, the armies the air forces. France wants to develop co-operation with Croatia in many domains, particularly in defence and security. We also want to strengthen the partnership of the defence industries for the benefit of both countries,” Parly said, according to the Croatian MoD report on the meeting.
France is also supporting Dassault’s Rafale bids in the Finnish H-X and Swiss Air2030 fighter competitions, but these will not be decided until mid-2021 and first quarter of 2021 respectively.
Recent signs also indicate that Egypt may be ready to resume defense procurement from France, which it informally suspended after French President Emmanuel Macron publicly criticized the country’s dismal human rights record. Egypt was expected to order a second batch of Rafales, in addition to the 24 it has already purchased and received, and this could now be resumed. Parly’s official agenda noted a Nov. 30 telephone conversation with Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Zaki, the Egyptian minister of defense and of military production, and while the subject was not specified Rafale is one of the obvious subjects.
Additional French orders in pipeline
These export orders, if signed, will solve Dassault’s production shortfall for Rafale, and allow the French government to defer the order for the fifth and final batch of 30 Rafales to after 2025.
Production on current orders were due to run out in 2024, but France will have to order 12 additional Rafales to replace the 12 it is selling Greece from its in-service inventory, and the six new-build aircraft also sold to Greece will extend production until 2025-2026.
“We must imagine and weigh all sorts of scenarios allowing delivery to the different customers while meeting the requirements of the French Air Force,” Parly told BFM TV, “but obviously the French Air Force will remain the priority.”
“My responsibility, my duty is obviously to ensure that the Air Force has the capabilities it requires, and we will respect the milestones as set out in the 2019-2025 military program law, which call for additional Rafales for the Air Force,” she added.
At the current production rate of 22 aircraft per year, the Greek and Indonesian orders would ensure sufficient workload for another three years beyond 2024 without requiring an increase in the production rate. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
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