Egyptian summer of military training focus

With the eyes of the defence world about to turn towards Egypt for the forthcoming Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX) the Egyptian Air Force has been exploring new training opportunities with a range of partners and allies, writes Jon Lake

The summer began with the Ramses-2021 exercise which saw the Egyptian Air Force and the French Armée de l’Air et de l'Espace undertaking joint exercises involving the Dassault Mirage 2000, the Dassault Rafale, the MiG-29M2 and the Lockheed Martin F-16, as well as French Airbus A330 MRTT air to air refueling tanker aircraft. The exercise elements were commanded by Lieutenant-General Mohamed Abbas Helmy, Commander of the Egyptian Air Force, and Major General Pilot Laurent Lerbet, Vice Commander of French Air Operations.

In late August the United Arab Emirates and Egypt began a ten day joint air and naval exercise. The Zayed-3 air exercise was hosted at Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra air base (UAE). Al Dhafra is the home of two Mirage 2000 squadrons and three F-16E/F Fighting Falcon squadrons, and played host to the Rafale EM/DM of Egypt’s 203rd TFW and an unidentified Egyptian F-16C/D unit. The participating units practised both defensive and offensive roles, and worked hard to enhance interoperability, building on work done by the two air forces while operating together in Libya.

Then, from 2-17 September Egypt held its long-awaited Bright Star exercise, postponed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bright Star exercise, which began in 1981, originally involved only Egyptian and US forces, but has grown in recent years, and this year had 21 international participants, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Cyprus, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Pakistan, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The exercise aimed to test each country’s ability to work together to address regional challenges across air, land, sea and cyber domains, and included a field training exercise with a combined-arms live-fire exercise, a command post exercise and a senior leader seminar to facilitate information sharing from the tactical to the strategic levels.

More than 85 combat aircraft participated in the air element of the exercise.