France is reportedly planning to modify Rafale multi-role fighters, removing the nuclear missile capability, before delivering them to the Egyptian Air Force.
Last month, the Egyptian Government ordered 24 Rafale fighters from Dassult Aviation under a €5bn deal, which also covers the supply of a Fremm multipurpose frigate, as well as undisclosed number of MBDA air-to-air missiles.
A source close to the deal was quoted by Defense News as saying that the company will remove nuclear missile capability and the Nato standard communications from the aircraft.
In 2008, Rafales were upgraded to the F3 standard, to carry the air-sol moyenne portée améliorée (ASMPA) missile tipped with the TN-200 nuclear warhead, which will now be removed along with modifications to the communication system as Egypt is not part of the alliance.
Following modifications, deliveries will start, with the first batch comprising three fighters scheduled to be handed over to Egypt in August of this year.
The Egyptian Government has started payments for its Rafales, which is similar to the price paid by France for the fighters.
Dassault Aviation chairman Eric Trappier said: "The contract with Egypt is now in effect. The first check landed at the start of the week."
Currently, the French and Egyptian authorities are discussing a delivery schedule for Egypt, as there is a ‘substitution’ effect on deliveries that had been due for the French Air Force and Navy.
Trappier said the company will hand over five Rafales to France in 2015 along with three to Egypt, followed by a second batch comprising three jets in December or January.
Meanwhile, a second source told the publication that France will also translate the Fremm frigate’s systems into English and Arabic, in addition to modifying combat systems to remove the naval cruise missile capability.
Originally built for the French Navy, the warship is scheduled to be handed over to Egypt as the Normandie.
Image: A French Air Force’s Rafale fighter seen at 2009 RIAT Airshow in England. Photo: courtesy of Tim Felce (Airwolfhound).