Egypt, one of India’s strategic partners in the Middle East, has expressed interest in acquiring the Akash air defence missile system, a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
The Akash missile system can target aircraft up to 45 km (28 mi) away and has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and ballistic missiles. It is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.
Egypt’s interest in the Akash missile system comes amid India’s efforts to expand the export of its indigenous military hardware, which have reached an all-time high of nearly Rs 16,000 crore ($2.2 billion) in FY 2022-23, according to the defence ministry. India has also claimed that its design and development capabilities are reaching over 85 countries.
Egypt and India already have an existing robust defence cooperation, particularly in the area of military sales, training, and technical transfer of knowledge. The two countries have also been conducting joint exercises and port visits by their naval and air forces.
The bilateral defence ties received a boost when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi visited New Delhi in January 2023 and held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders discussed ways to enhance their collaboration in the interaction between armed forces and the sale of Indian-made weapon systems. El-Sisi also conferred Modi with the “Order of the Nile”, Egypt’s highest state honour, and was a guest of honour at India’s Republic Day celebrations.
The defence cooperation between the two countries was further strengthened when Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki in Cairo in September 2022 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation.
India has been working diligently to increase its presence in the arms trade and compete with powerhouse nations like Russia and China. This ambition has seen India focus its efforts on selling its domestically produced weapons to African militaries, which are often unable to afford Western-made equipment. India has already had some success in this sector and is now looking to build upon this as it hopes to become a major player in African arms deals.
India has developed and manufactured a vast array of weapons and defence systems, ranging from small arms to sophisticated aircraft. These are made available to African militaries at a fraction of the cost of their Western counterparts, making them an attractive option for poorer nations. India has also made great strides in providing maintenance and support for its weapons systems, making them a reliable and cost-effective option for African militaries.
Apart from the Akash missile system, Egypt has also shown interest in other Indian-made defence products, such as the Akash NG (New Generation) air defence system, which has a longer range and higher accuracy than the Akash Mk1, and the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), a precision-guided glide bomb developed by DRDO.
However, Egypt has reportedly decided to procure the Korean T-50 trainer aircraft with transfer of technology (ToT) for local production, instead of the Indian LCA-Tejas trainer aircraft, which India had offered to set up production facilities for in Egypt. The Tejas is a light combat aircraft developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Although, India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman, Shri C.B. Ananthakrishnan, announced at Aero-India 2023 that the company is still in talks with Egypt and Argentinian officials to secure a contract to supply 35 Tejas LCA Mk-1A to the nation’s armed forces.
The Akash missile system is one of India’s most successful defence exports, having been sold to countries like Armenia, while Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have shown interest. India hopes to increase its defence exports to $5 billion by 2025 and become a major player in the global arms market. Egypt, as a key regional power and a close partner of India, could be a potential buyer of more Indian-made defence equipment in the future.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military is interested in acquiring the CAMM air defense missile system from MBDA. Egypt is actively exploring its options when it comes to modernizing its air defence capabilities. The country is keenly interested in acquiring the MBDA CAMM air defence missile system. This system is a more advanced, modern system that is designed to provide a high degree of protection against incoming threats. It boasts an impressive array of capabilities, including advanced detection and tracking, guidance, and interception capabilities. The system is also capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously, providing Egypt with a formidable defence against any potential threats.