The ill-fated Mistral helicopter carriers, which France refused to hand over to Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis, have been sold to Egypt by Paris for a reported €950 million. The contract was agreed upon at a high-profile meeting between French and Egyptian representatives in Paris.
“We unwound the contract we had with Russia, on good terms, respectful of Russia and not suffering any penalty for France,” French President Francois Hollande said as he arrived at an EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, I agreed the price and conditions of this sale with (Egyptian) President (Abdel Fattah al-) Sisi and so France will ensure the delivery of these ships without losing anything, while helping protect Egypt,” he added.
The French government agreed to reimburse that same amount (€950 million) to Moscow last month after the sale was cancelled.
Each Mistral (aka “Swiss army knife”) warship have the potential to hold up to 16 helicopters and 1,000 troops.
“The ships should be handed over to Egypt in early March after the training of about 400 Egyptians and some final tests,” the source said.
One source close to the matter told Reuters in August any deal with Egypt would likely be part-financed by Gulf Arab states.
A diplomatic source said Cairo wanted to base one ship in the Mediterranean and another in the RED SEA, making it available for future operations.
The sale will take the number of French naval vessels sold to Egypt to seven in just two years.
Egypt last year bought four small Gowind warships, built by Mistral manufacturer DCNS, which is 64 percent owned by the French state and 35 percent by defence group Thales.
It also acquired a French frigate as part of a 5.2 billion euro contract for 24 Rafale warplanes earlier this year, France’s first overseas export of the fighter jet.
Land locked Ethiopia gets a little perplexed by the news that Egypt buys two mistral helicopter carrier warships from France with a plan to deploy them in future operations in the Red Sea waters of Eritrea. Ruling Party affiliated media website – aiga forum – recently reflects the official concern of the Ethiopian government on the matter in a most unofficial fashion. Unwarranted, it signals the buyout as somehow a threat to Ethiopia and advised the government on the need to prepare for any eventuality.
Although it makes no sense, the regime’s most favorite website wanted Ethiopians to foolishly understand the news in such a way that one means for Ethiopia to deter the horrors of these powerful helicopter carriers is by reclaiming the Eritrean port of Assab. This is what it has to say:
Even with the rising spectre of Islamic extremism looming over Saharan and portions of sub-Saharan Africa, it is not exactly clear what Egypt plans on doing with two amphibious helicopter carriers. These powerful ships could be used as sea bases of sorts, parking them off the coast of trouble spots on the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea, but that would signal a massive expeditionary shift in Egypt’s foreign policy…
We have no doubt the Horn of Africa countries are not taking this news seriously but in case they are be warned! Prepare for any eventuality! Deterrence is the best tool to avoid war! Red Sea ought not be left to the camels any more!
Red Sea and the Camels?
“… if Ethiopia decide against using the Eritrea port of Assab on the Red Sea, then the fate of Assab would remain to be a mere source of drinking water for camels.” – The late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi