The Egyptian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that AN/TWQ-1 Avengers are being put on the flight decks of Mistral landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships to provide short-range air defense. According to IHS Jane's, the Avenger consists of a manned turret armed with eight Stinger missiles mounted on a modified Hummer vehicle.
The confirmation of its new naval role came in the form of a video that the Egyptian MoD released on 12 July showing the "Cleopatra 2017" joint naval exercise with the French Navy. An Egyptian Mistral was seen with at least three Avengers strapped to its flight deck and their turrets rotating as if scanning for targets.
Egypt’s Mistrals were built for Russia in France and were expected to be fitted with two 3M-47 Gibka turrets with Igla-S missiles and two AK-630 rotary cannons to provide short-range air defense. However, the LHDs could not be delivered to Russia due to the European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow after its annexation of Crimea, at which point Egypt stepped in to buy them without their Russian systems.
The Cleopatra 2017 exercise was last week in Egyptian territorial waters in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reports that the training encompasses several units and naval machinery, including Egyptian and French Mistral helicopters, a number of frigates, rocket launchers, aircraft that discover and combat submarines and Egyptian F-16 fighter jets.
The training activities include planning and management of joint offensive and defensive combat operations, inspection of suspicious vessels, transportation exercises, reception and departure of helicopters from the roofs of units, training on the security of naval units using air defense weapons and the maritime landing of personnel and equipment on the coast.
In 2016, Egypt carried out 30 joint military exercises with 20 Arab and African countries, and European countries including France and Russia.