The Egyptian and French navies conducted the joint exercise "Cleopatra 2018" in the Red Sea on February 20-23, 2018. In a statement, Egypt's Armed Forces spokesman Tamer El-Refaie said the exercise is part of the annual framework of joint drills.
The exercise involved drills using Mistral-class helicopter carriers, frigates, and special marine units. It also witnessed the participation of members of the air forces, air defense forces and the southern command, along with units from the French navy using helicopter carriers, frigates, and special units.
The drills involved a number of combat exercises using live ammunition, submarines, and defense against asymmetric threats, as well as executing daytime and nighttime sailing formations.
"Cleopatra 2018" also included a comprehensive amphibious landing for the first time on one of the Red Sea islands. The landing was launched using reconnaissance groups on the island, followed by the landing of special marine and ground forces.
The final stage of the drills was attended by Egypt's Army Chief-of-Staff Mohamed Farid, Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy Lt. Gen. Ahmed Khaled and his French counterpart in the Indian Ocean, as well as other Armed Forces officials.
Chief-of-Staff Farid praised the depth of Egyptian-French relations and its reflection on the bilateral military cooperation in various fields. He also thanked the participating forces from both sides for their special performance and professionalism in carrying out the operations.
The drill coincides with a wide-ranging Egyptian army operation – now underway in the Sinai Peninsula – aimed at finding and destroying militant groups accused of carrying out a recent string of attacks.
Egypt has conducted several joint military drills with France in recent years:
Exercise "Cleopatra 2017"
Egyptian and French naval forces concluded on July 12, 2017, joint naval military exercises dubbed "Cleopatra 2017," which ran for two days in Egyptian territorial waters in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
The exercise included planning and management of joint offensive and defensive combat operations, inspection of suspicious vessels, transportation exercises, helicopter maneuvers, air defense and the maritime landing of personnel and equipment on coasts.
The drills saw the participation of the amphibious assault ships of the French Mistral-class, including Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar El-Sadat, as well as a number of frigates and boats with rocket launchers, F-16 fighter jets, and anti-submarine aircraft that detect and combat submarines.
The exercises were attended by Egyptian naval commander VADM Ahmed Khaled and French naval commander ADM Christophe Prazuck.
Exercise "Cleopatra 2016"
Egyptian and French naval forces have concluded their joint naval exercises dubbed "Cleopatra 2016", on June 20-23, 2016, near the coastlines of Egypt. The exercises included a number of activities such as planning and carrying out naval offensives.
Egypt’s BPC-210 Mistral-class amphibious assault ship (BPC/LHD), named after the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, took part in the exercise. It also made a two-week pilot voyage from France's Saint-Nazaire, with 170 sailors and 50 French defense experts on board, according to Al-Ahram Arabic.
After taking part in the military drill "Cleopatra 2016", the BPC-210 Mistral arrived at Ras Al-Tin Naval Base in Alexandria.
The "Ramses 2016" military and naval exercise
In March 2016, Egypt and France conducted the "Ramses 2016" military and joint naval maneuvers, held off the coast of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
Paris announced that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which was used to launch air strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, took part in the maneuvers.
The drill aimed at "sharing our expertise with the Egyptian military... one of our most important Middle East partners," the French defense ministry said at the time.
The Egyptian army said that a French multi-mission frigate purchased by Cairo last year also took part in the drill along with Rafale combat jets and F-16 warplanes.
The joint naval exercise "Cleopatra 2014"
From May 26 to June 4, 2014, France and Egypt have conducted their joint naval exercises, codenamed "Cleopatra 2014." The exercises took place near the southern French port of Toulon.
More than 1,200 sailors participated in the exercises, including 700 Egyptians on board the frigates Rashied and Alexandria, patrol craft October 6th and 25th April and tanker Shalatien.
As for the French Navy participation, it included stealth frigate Courbet, the offshore patrol commander Bouan supply ship, the Montcalm anti-submarine frigate, a nuclear attack submarine and maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters.
The exercises included firing live ammunition to repel and destroy hostile surface and air targets and conducting refueling and supply missions. They also oversaw the launch of nighttime sorties by anti-submarine helicopters.
Paris and Cairo have nurtured close political, economic and military ties in recent years with both sides concerned by the Islamic terror and the ongoing political vacuum in Libya. Both France and Egypt are part of the US-led coalition of countries fighting against the Islamic State.
France has recently become one of Egypt’s main sources of armaments after the US and Russia. Since 2015, it has bought 24 Rafale airplanes, a multisession FREMM frigate, four Gowind corvettes, and two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships (helicopter carriers).
The naval exercise functions in the framework of advancing the strategic and military partnership and cooperation between Egypt and France. It enforces the cooperation between the two countries in defense combat operations, signal transportation exercises, and securing marine units using air defense weapons, among other operations.