The Egyptian navy chose to equip frigates and corvettes with Leonardo’s Italian AW149 helicopters, while everyone was expecting a French NH90 order. Despite political support from Paris and Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Cairo at the end of January, Airbus Helicopters, which the NH90 Marine (NFH) has offered, was not selected by Egypt to purchase 20 to 30 helicopters. It is Leonardo’s long-time rival, who wins this very fine export order with the AW149.
Leonardo Helicopters is believed by experts to be the world’s 9th largest weapons company, with arms sales of US$9.3 billion in 2015 (SIPRI). Its products, military helicopters, combat aircraft, UAVs, missiles, armoured vehicles and naval guns, would be sold in Oman, Pakistan, Libya, Algeria, Turkey and now Egypt. Leonardo is largely an Italian company; but since 2016, when it merged with AgustaWestland, the Italian giant has also been part of the NHIndustries Consortium, with Germany; France and the Netherlands.
It would therefore be under the cover of a proposal sponsored by NHIndustries that Leonardo’s AW149 took the lead in the French NH90, for an order, reports the international press, of more than thirty Helicopters. A false Egyptian leap also in Moscow, since its helicopters the Ka-lors 52 Katran, would also have been excluded from the race.
However, according to French media reports, French diplomacy is far from discouraged and has reportedly contacted the Egyptian government to see ways and means of guaranteeing other commercial fronts such as the maintenance contracts of Hervé Guillou’s naval industrial group or the missiles of the European leader in the field, MBDA.
Egyptian Navy purchased six MEKO frigates for of 2.6 billion dollars
This other incident marks the end of good Franco-Egyptian relations, especially after the MEKO frigates option taken by Cairo. As a reminder, the Egyptian Navy has taken a serious option on the purchase of six MEKO frigates for an amount of 2.6 billion dollars by rejecting the purchase of FREMM. For helicopters, this would be an order for 20 to 30 aircraft configured for transport, SAR and ASW missions. Although it is a medium transport aircraft, the AW149 can be equipped with weapons, including sharp mounts for FMPK guns or even a Minigun. It can also be equipped with wing points to fire Brimstone, LMM or rocket missiles.