The Egyptian army has reported that Egypt and France began Sunday joint manoeuvres in the Mediterranean in which French Rafale warplanes, purchased by Cairo last year, are taking part.
According to the Egyptian army, the “Ramses 2016” military and naval exercise is being held off the coast of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and are expected to last for several days. Paris announced the manoeuvres on Tuesday, stating that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is being used to launch airstrikes on the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, would also take part. At the time, the French Defense Ministry indicated that the drill is aimed at “sharing our expertise with the Egyptian military…one of our main Middle East partners.” Meanwhile the Egyptian army has disclosed that a French multi-mission frigate, which was purchased by Cairo last year, would also take part in the drill along with Rafale combat jets and F-16 warplanes.
In 2015, Cairo signed a multi-billion euro deal in order to purchase from France 24 Rafale fighters, of which six have already been delivered. On 19 December 2015, the Charles de Gaulle carrier took command in the Gulf of the naval continent operating as part of the international coalition fighting IS.
The French-Egyptian manoeuvres are taking place amidst Western concerns over the growing influence of IS in Libya, which borders Egypt.