Egypt Orders KA-52 Combat Helos, Considers MiG-35s

 - September 28, 2015, 10:00 AM
According to reports, Egypt has agreed to a deal with Russian arms vendor Rosoboronexport on 50 Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Egypt awarded Russian arms vendor Rosoboronexport a contract for 50 Kamov Ka-52 Alligator combat helicopters, according to Russian media reports. Details of the transaction remained scarce, but it is thought that some of the Egyptian helicopters are maritime version Ka-52K Katran, which was unveiled earlier this year.

The Katran may equip the two Mistral class landing ships that were built by DCNS/STX France for Russia. France stopped delivery after joining the sanctions regime against Russia for its annexation of Crimea. Almost the same day the Ka-52 deal became public, Egypt was revealed as the buyer of the ships. Russian sources insisted that, although Egypt can base its Kamovs on the Mistrals, the Ka-52K is not a part of the Mistral deal.

Moscow and Paris signed the €1.2 billion Mistral deal in January 2011. Both ships have been built and tested at sea. The Vladivostok should have been delivered to Russia in November 2014, and the Sevastopol the following year. But on Sept. 3, 2014, French President François Hollande announced that due to Russia's “recent actions in Ukraine,” the two ships would not be delivered. Following negotiations, Paris and Moscow rendered the contract ineffective in August. Deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov confirmed Moscow’s readiness to clear Russian-made equipment on both ships to be sold to another buyer. The equipment includes a KRET suppression system for electronic warfare, according to the manufacturer.

Saudi Arabia, which needs the support of Egyptian troops in Yemen, is believed to have funded recent Egyptian weapons purchases. The Mistral class ships are designed to transport troops and armored vehicles, which makes them suitable for the Yemen campaign. The Russian navy wanted the Mistrals to carry Kamov combat rotorcraft for fire support. With a maximum displacement of 21,300 metric tons, the ships can carry up to 16 heavy or 35 light helicopters, and up to 900 troops.

Russia views Egypt as a potential buyer for MiG-35 multirole fighters. In Egyptian service, these would replace MiG-21 fighters of Russian and Chinese origin. Estimates on the quantity of fighters Egypt could buy vary from between 46 and 62, depending on sources. The Moscow-based Vedomosti newspaper reported that the deal would be worth $2 billion.

Syria, too, may receive 12 MiGs that it ordered in 2008. Shipments could place in 2016-2017, according to Russian media reports. Syria selected the MiG-29M/M2, which shares an airframe and systems with the newer, advanced MiG-35.