Days after the US cut part of the financial and military aid to Egypt, state-owned media in Russia announced that tactical military exercises from both sides will take place next September in Russia. The outlet also announced that drills will take place to train Egyptian pilots on the newly acquired Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters.
On Monday, Russian News Agency TASS said that the first exercise, named “The Friendship Bridge” between the two armies, will take place in the Krasnodar region and will include airborne experts from the Russian side. Tass quoted a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry saying the two sides will hone their skills in landing and seizing and holding a mountain pass.
This is the first time the Egyptian army holds military exercises in Russia.
The “Friendship Bridge” exercise began its first round in Egypt in 2015, between 6-14 June, and was meant to “become an important step towards strengthening the mutual understanding” between the two navies, according to Russia.
The Egyptian army is facing militants in Sinai and have engaged in guerrilla warfare with extremists in mountainous areas and civilian sites.
The training was agreed upon on 13 July, according to a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry.
In another context, TASS also quoted on Monday chief designer of the Kamov Design Bureau Sergei Mikheyev saying that pilots of the reconnaissance and combat Ka-52 Alligator will work on preparing the crew that will operate the helicopters in Egypt. Mikheyev added that the training is planned to be completed next year.
The Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters are planned to operate and land on the Mistral warships landing dock. Last week, Russia announced that it will supply Egypt with 15 Ka-52 Alligator helicopters by the end of this year, as part of an agreement to deliver a total of 46 helicopters.
Joint military exercises usually highlight certain closeness between participants. The two countries signed a protocol on military cooperation on 2015.
Egyptian-Russian relationships have seen major developments since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took over as president, with mutual presidential and ministerial-level visits. In March 2015, the two countries signed a protocol on military cooperation and announced the beginning of naval exercises.
The Russian Helicopters’ company, previously announced it was aiming to expand its helicopter fleet for the civilian market, citing the scheduled opening of a service centre for Mi-8/17 helicopters in 2017 in Egypt as an example of the deepening cooperation. The Mi-8/17 is operated as a military as well as a civilian helicopter and constitutes a major component of the Egyptian air force’s helicopter fleet.
After the Camp David Accords, Egypt became increasingly prominent in the Arab world but was granted a massive US military aid, alienating its traditional ally and weapon supplier, the Soviet Union.
The expanding ties between Egypt and Russia started after the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, as Russia did not express serious concerns about possible human rights violations.