The last major arms deal between the US and Egypt was in 2010, with 20 F-16C fighters, but no long-range strike weapons
After 2013, arms sales between the US and Egypt ceased for political reasons. The rapid growth of Egypt’s arsenal is also raising concerns in Israel. Israeli experts fear that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is yearning to restore Egypt’s former glory and status as the dominant regional power.
Israel is an air power – this is not contested. Now Egypt is also very rapidly developing its air force. After increasing the number of Rafale fighter to 54, Egypt is said to be planning to increase this number to 100. This would make Egypt’s Rafale fleet huge, second only to the French Air Force. Moreover, the combination of Egyptian fighter jets from different countries, including Russia, the US and France, would be a nightmare for the Israeli Air Force.
In terms of air power, Egypt ranks 10th in the world, with about 590 fighters. F-16s are still the mainstay of the Egyptian air force with 240 aircraft. Other aircraft include 65 Mirages, 40 MiG-21s, 30 J-7s, 24 Su-35s and 46 MiG-29Ms. The Israeli Air Force is ranked 19th in the world. Israel owns 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, Israel’s fighters are more modern and powerful, flown by pilots with far superior qualifications and experience. In addition, the Israeli Army is also a world leader in the development of UAVs and precision-guided weapons. Israeli F-16s are equipped with air-to-air guided missiles as modern as those of the US Air Force. Moreover, Israel’s F-35Is are considered to be the most advanced aircraft in the world, giving the IDF a huge advantage, which can quickly defeat the Egyptian air invasion, thanks to its stealth and the weapons it carried.
In an aerial encounter, experts estimate that Israeli warplanes will quickly prevail over the Egyptian air forces, with their pre-emptive strike capabilities, modern aircraft, weapons, and well-trained pilots. Although both mainly use the F-16, the Egyptian F-16 only has weapons with a range of less than 35 km. In contrast, the Israeli F-16’s electronic warfare capabilities make its survivability higher. But this will change when Egypt acquires advanced Rafale and Sukhoi fighters, bringing many advantages to the Egyptian Air Force.
The weakness of the Egyptian Air Force is the quality of pilots. Despite the addition of powerful Rafale and Su-35 fighter jets, the Egyptian Air Force still has a long way to go to catch up with Israel’s air power, which is firmly supported by the US. The excellent quality of the pilots and their seasoned combat experience is a great advantage for Israel.