Egypt and France recently concluded a joint naval and air exercise dubbed “Ramses 2019.” The drills were held within Egypt’s territorial waters of the Mediterranean Sea and participated by naval, air, and special forces from both countries.
Egyptian armed forces spokesman Tamer El-Refaie said the French side is participating with aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and its combat group, plus several Rafale fighter jets.
The Egyptian side sent a maritime formation of frigates, modern rocket launchers, F-16 and Rafale fighter jets, and members of Egyptian Naval Special Forces.
The drills included the execution of several activities which contribute in unifying operational concepts and abilities to plan and monitor joint naval and air combats.
The training activities included protecting a vital cargo ship, exchanging helicopters on the roofs of naval units, carrying out clashes between naval formations, inspecting suspected vessels and others.
Air forces carried out several joint training exercises to defend and attack vital targets, plan and manage joint air combat operations and support maritime formation in carrying out its planned missions.
The final training phase was attended by a number of Egyptian and French naval commanders and the French ambassador in Cairo.
The exercise aimed to enhance the skills of the participating forces, as well as exchange combat and field experience to execute any common threats under any circumstances.
Exercise Cleopatra-Gapian 2019
In April, the two countries carried out a joint naval drill, dubbed Cleopatra-Gapian 2019, in French territorial waters. Egyptian maritime units from the northern and southern fleet commands, including a Mistral-class helicopter carrier as well as several warships and missile craft, participated in a similar drill that was also carried out with the French military.
The Ramses 2016 Exercise
In March 2016, Egypt and France conducted the Ramses 2016 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 airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, took part in the maneuvers.
The drills 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 then that a French multi-mission frigate purchased by Cairo in 2015 also took part in the drill along with Rafale combat jets and F-16 warplanes.
Since 2015, Egypt has diversified and increased the number of countries which it conducts military drills with, ranging from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and to Arab and African countries.
France has become one of Egypt’s primary sources of armaments after the US and Russia. Since 2015, it has bought 24 Rafale jet fighters, 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.
[Sources: Xinhua, Armed Forces News, Asharq al Awsat]