Turkey has agreed to supply Egypt with its renowned drones as both Islamic nations seek to strengthen their diplomatic ties, which have been upgraded from normalisation to strategic. The deal marks a pivotal moment in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been strained for a decade.
According to Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan, Turkey will export unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other cutting-edge technologies to Egypt, as part of a broader cooperation on trade, energy, and security issues. Fidan announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Egypt on February 14 to meet his counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a historic trip that signifies the restoration of diplomatic relations.
“Normalization in our relations is important so as to allow Egypt to have certain technologies. We have an agreement to provide [Egypt] unmanned air vehicles and other technologies,” Fidan told pro-government A Haber station.
The relations between Turkey and Egypt had been tense since the 2013 military coup that ousted the late Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, an ally of Turkey and part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. At the time, Erdoğan said he would never speak to “anyone” like Sisi, who in 2014 became president of the Arab world’s most populous nation.
The first signs of a thaw came in May 2021, when a Turkish delegation visited Egypt to discuss possible normalization. Since then, the two countries have exchanged positive signals and expressed their willingness to improve their ties.
The drone deal is a significant step in this direction, as it shows the mutual trust and respect between the two countries. Turkey is a global leader in drone technology, with its UAVs (Bayraktar TB2) proving their effectiveness in various conflicts, such as Azerbaijan and Libya, and in Ukraine, where they played a pivotal role in countering Russian forces early into Moscow’s invasion.
Turkey’s Baykar company, which produces the Bayraktar TB2 drone, has exported its drones to more than 30 countries to date. The TB2 can fly for more than 20 hours at 27,000 feet, can carry a load of up to 120 kilograms (265 pounds) and weighs only 650 kilograms. The drone is known for taking out some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems, artillery systems and armored vehicles.
Egypt had previously planned to buy ten Anka drones from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in 2011, but the deal was stalled due to the diplomatic standoff. Now, with the relations improving, Egypt will be able to access Turkey’s drone technology, which could enhance its military capabilities and regional influence.
The drone deal is also expected to pave the way for further collaboration between Turkey and Egypt, beyond defense, contributing to mutual economic and strategic interests. The two countries share common concerns and challenges in the region, such as the Libyan crisis, the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, and the fight against terrorism. By working together, they could play a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the region.