Since the 1960s, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has played a pivotal role in the country’s defense; but now the situation is changing.
The Israeli Air Force‘s absolute dominance in the Middle East is due to its super-efficient training and intelligence operations conducted by Mossad and other agencies to assess the strength of its opponents. and efforts in the design and purchase of new aircraft.
One country that has consistently challenged Israel’s air dominance, but failed to do so, is Egypt. Egypt is going in the opposite direction in its arms procurement policy, buying more weapons from countries like Russia and France; and the latest is the addition of the Rafale fighter .
The United States worries about the possibility of losing influence over Egypt, as the Muslim country continues to build military power independent of the United States. The latest agreement of Egypt, is to buy 30 fighter Rafale, the French producer prices $ 5 billion.
The recent purchase of Rafale has increased the number of Rafales in the Egyptian Air Force to 54 aircraft (including 24 purchased in 2015). The Rafale is a 4++ generation aircraft that offers long-range air combat capabilities that have been limited by the US to Egypt, such as not selling long-range air-to-air missiles, advanced sensors.
Another important addition to Egypt’s air power was the purchase of 50 MiG-29Ms from Russia in 2015. Russia also supplied highest rated fighter to Egypt, which was 30 Su-35 air superiority fighters in 2018, to the chagrin of the US.
The last major arms deal between the US and Egypt was in 2010, when the US sold 20 F-16C fighters (but no long-range strike weapons). In 2013, after a military coup, when Abdel-Fattah became President of the country, arms sales between the US and Egypt ceased.
Egypt began to turn to other countries to strengthen its armed forces. Such developments worry American policymakers, as the United States has for decades tried to maintain the strength of the Israeli Army by not providing its neighbors with weapons and weapons. more modern than the Israeli Army.
The rapid growth of Egypt’s arsenal is also raising concerns in Israel, with many questioning the motive for the purchase. Israeli experts fear President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is desperate to restore Egypt’s former glory and status as the dominant regional power.
Egypt is currently emerging as a country, having the best equipped air force in the entire Middle East region. The past decade has seen “remarkable” arms imports from Egypt, from countries like France, China, the US, and Russia.
It is therefore necessary to consider a possible scenario where Egypt pits Israel in an all-out confrontation, which could happen in the event of a regime change in Cairo.
If Israel has been the air powerhouse (which is undisputed) in the Middle East for decades, Egypt is slowly developing its air force at a tremendous pace. With Egypt’s new purchase of French Rafales fighter jets, it will add significant strength to the country’s air force.
After increasing the number of Rafale aircraft to 54, Egypt is said to be planning to increase the number of Rafale to 100; with the addition of more advanced F4 versions of the aircraft. This would make Egypt’s Rafale fleet, most numbered only after the French Air Force.
According to experts, the features of the F4 version will challenge Israel’s air superiority in the region. Moreover, the mix of Egyptian fighter types, including those from Russia, the US and France, is another nightmare for the Israeli Air Force, given the unpredictability of weapons systems.
In terms of air power, Egypt ranks 13th in the world, with about 590 fighter aircraft. F-16s are still the mainstay of the Egyptian air force, with a number of 240. Other aircraft types include 65 French Mirages, 40 MiG-21s, 30 Chinese J-7s; 24 Su-35s and 46 MiG-29M and 24 Rafale multirole fighters.
Israel is ranked 20th in the world compared to 13th for Egypt; Currently, the Israeli Air Force has about 255 fighters, all of which are better quality than the fighters of Egypt, as well as the entire Middle East region.
As an “intrinsic” US ally, Israel only uses US-made aircraft, including 225 F-16s, 83 F-15s and 27 F-35s. The power of F-35 fifth-generation fighters is expected to increase as Israel plans to buy 23 more F-35s by 2024, bringing the total number of F-35s to 50.
Although fewer in number of fighters than Egypt, Israel’s fighters are more modern, more powerful, and are flown by more qualified and experienced pilots. much, because Israeli pilots have undergone rigorous training.
In addition, the Israeli Army (IDF) is a self-sufficient force and a world leader in the development of UAVs and precision-guided weapons. Unlike the Egyptian F-16s, which have reduced combat capabilities due to the lack of long-range missiles, the Israeli F-16 has no less advanced air-to-air guided missiles than the US Air Force.
More importantly, the US-supplied Israeli F-35Is, considered the most advanced aircraft in the world, give the IDF a huge advantage, which can quickly defeat the Israeli air invasion. Egypt, thanks to its stealth and the quality of the weapons it is equipped with.
In a possible skirmish in the air, experts estimate that Israeli warplanes will quickly prevail over the Egyptian air forces, with their pre-emptive strike capabilities, along with their aircraft. flying, modern weapons and well-trained pilots.
Although both air forces mainly use the F-16, the Egyptian F-16 is like a bear with its claws cut off before the Israeli F-16, because the weapon has a smaller range of 35 km. Moreover, the electronic warfare capability, which gives the Israeli F-16 a much higher survivability, against the Egyptian fighters.
But Wii this change, as Egypt acquires advanced Rafale and Sukhoi fighters, bringing many advantages to the Egyptian Air Force? Although Egypt will take time, to create enough such aircraft.
The weakness of the Egyptian Air Force is the quality of the pilots, which has been questioned many times, during the fighting in different battlefields. Although the US has made great efforts to train Egyptian pilots to use the F-16 effectively, but the Egyptian pilots’ level has not improved.
Despite the reinforcement of powerful Rafale and Su-35 fighters, the Egyptian Air Force is still difficult to shake the No. 1 position of the Israeli Air Force, because Israel has a solid “back” of the United States, with a large intelligence network, well-trained pilots, seasoned combat experience and most importantly, the steadfast defense of Israel.