fr24news– France has suspended the sale of the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile to Egypt in response to a request from Israel, an arms specialist has said.
This French decision to relinquish an order for the Meteor missile differed from an initial suspension of the Scalp cruise missile in Egypt, the latter being due to the United States’ refusal to authorize American components under international regulations on the arms trafficking (ITAR).
France appears to have since delivered the cruise missile to Egypt.
A sale of French arms on the foreign market requires the approval of an interministerial committee, the interministerial commission for the study of war material exports (CIEEMG). Any agreement calls for the green light from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Quai d’Orsay.
Some arms exports can be seen as going too far, such as sales to Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen, a foreign policy analyst said. The Quai d’Orsay can take a different path from that of the Ministry of Defense within the interministerial committee.
Israel has a strong arms market, with the United States as a preferred partner and a commitment for Israel to maintain a quality military advantage over the nations of the Middle East.
An Egyptian Rafale fighter, armed with a Meteor missile, designed to strike targets beyond visual range, “would completely destabilize the forces,” said a second weapons specialist. Israel would say no to that.
Israel, which flies the F-35 fighter jet, developed its Derby air-to-air missile in response to the United States’ initial rejection of a sale of the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the second specialist mentioned. Eventually there was a change in policy, with Washington agreeing to authorize the sale of AMRAAM for the Israeli F-35.
Israeli opposition to the Meteor-armed Egyptian Rafale has expressed concern over the European long-range weapon, the second specialist said. There were times when a stealth fighter lost its stealth qualities, but a long-range missile remained at long range.
On the sale of the French cruise missile to Egypt, an official Egyptian video appeared to show that Cairo had received the Scalp, nicknamed Black Shaheen.
The official video shows Egyptian and French Rafale fighters flying in the French exercise Skyros, with the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Air Force, General Mohammed Abbas Helmy, standing in front of a Scalp missile in a hanger .
French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly previously said the American components of the Scalp would be replaced.
Egypt had requested the Meteor and Scalp missiles in a 2015 order worth € 5.2 billion ($ 6.3 billion) for 24 Rafale fighter jets, with an option for 12 additional units.
France has sold relatively few arms to Israel, with the government’s 2020 report to parliament on arms exports showing 208.3 million euros in sales from 2010 to 2019.
Political ties in the Middle East have changed, with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signing cooperation under the Abrahamic Accords, a deal that reflects a common concern over a perceived threat from Iran.
Among the trade deals are Dubai Ports World and Israel Shipyards which have signed up as partners, which are supposed to jointly buy the port of Haifa from Israel, and sailboats from Dubai across the Red Sea to Eilat. This would bypass the Suez Canal, considered expensive, and gain Dubai alternative maritime access to the Mediterranean.
Egypt controls the Suez Canal and would see a loss of revenue.
The French Air Force flew Rafale fighters and A400M transport planes from January 20 to February 5 as part of the Skyros mission, deploying to India, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Greece. Force projection, interoperability and cooperation were the objectives of the exercise.