Egypt has F-16s and MiG-29s. How did this paradox come about?
PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Egypt currently has an air flotilla of two types of fighters – the F-16C Fighting Falcon and Russian MiG-29. It calls the fighter with similar characteristics. Russia designed the MiG to handle the other. How did you get to the point where Cairo has both types? A paradox?
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For decades, Egypt has been buying weapons from the United States. Until 2013, when Cairo made a sharp turn to Russian weapons technology. The Russian S-300 and Buk-M2 anti-aircraft systems’ purchase did not cause such a surprise in Western countries. But the world met the acquisition of the Russian MiG-29M fighters with bewilderment.
At the time, Cairo had 200 American F-16 fighters at its disposal. Many analysts claim that the MiG-29M model has a rather non-specialized multifunctional design. Although it is more maneuverable, faster, and higher-flying, it is no different from its American competitor.
The F-16 and MiG-29M have almost the same role each other. Then why did Cairo buy analog fighters?
Back to the 70s of last century
In those years, Egypt made the same sharp turn as in 2013. The Egyptians terminated the partnership with the Soviet Union, and Cairo looked to the West. But the West, and in particular the United States, denied Cairo the purchase of the then aces in the air – F-15 Eagle and F-14 Tomcat.
The political situation then determined this decision of Washington. Egypt was a partner but a lower-class partner. Egypt was placed in a somewhat unfavorable decision after Washington decided to arm countries with the same fighters as Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran.
Gradually and methodically, the West cut off the wings of Egypt. These actions culminated in the 1990s when the United States refused to upgrade its Egyptian F-16s. Thus, Cairo could not acquire new ammunition, especially the AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. Cairo realized that with its available AIM-7 missiles, they had no chance against a possible Israeli offensive.
2013 began quietly in Egypt until the middle of the year came, and a coup d’etat in the country overthrew the government. The United States was not happy. The Egyptian F-16 fleet was at a real threat to become utterly incapable of war.
Russia has given Egypt access to the upgrade
Left with “cut wings” due to the US refusal to continue its partnership with Egypt, Cairo turned to Moscow. The Russians closely monitored relations between Cairo and Washington and were ready when the time came. And he came.
Russia sold to Cairo MiG-29M. It was not the best Russian fighter at the time, but it was a kind of updated version of the F-16C that Egypt had landed. In this way, Egypt eliminated Israel’s advantage and gained Russian R-27ER and R-77 air-to-air missiles – precise, accurate, and long-range. At that time, Syria, Libya, and Sudan received a lower version of the MiG-29, and Cairo welcomed that situation.
Although it was not the best Russian fighter, Egypt received a machine with mighty engines, modern sensors for its time, and an electronic warfare system. The fighter has an increased combat radius, digital instruments, a larger internal tank, and improved aerodynamics. Many military experts claim that the quality of production of the MiG-29M is at a very high level. Today, this fighter is called the MiG-33.
From MiG-29M to MiG-35 4 ++ generation
The 70s are in the past. The MiG-29M purchase from Egypt opened the door wide for access to modern Russian fighter jets. Egypt is considered the primary customer of the MiG-35, which is generation 4 ++ and has the lowest operating costs. Maintenance requirements also do not require a large budget. In 2018, Cairo ordered the Russian Su-35. Probably the best Russian fighter of the last century and perhaps the best fighter in the world right now.
The Su-35 is not a stealth fighter, but it is not needed. It has AESA radars and sensors that detect at a long-distance both ordinary aircraft and enemy stealth technology. It is armed with precision missiles to strike, both at close range and at long range. Maneuverable, fast, and high-flying, in a direct collision, would defeat the American aircraft industry’s top – F-22 and F-35.
With this fighter, Egypt equaled its air force with Israel. Israeli superiority is behind Cairo. The Su-35 is currently the best fighter on the African continent.
Egypt forgot the 70s.
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