CAIRO (Middle East Eye) – Egypt is close to finalizing a $3bn deal with Italy to acquire combat aircraft, following three years of negotiations, according to an Italian newspaper.
Il Fatto Quotidiano quoted an Italian government official as saying that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is awaiting confirmation from Italian Prime Minister Mario Dargi to finalize the deal, which includes the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
The sale of fighter jets is part of a wider arms deal, valued at between $10-12bn, involving warships, combat and training aircraft, and a military satellite.
If completed, it would be the largest arms deal in Egypt’s recent history and one of the largest arms deals by Italy since World War Two.
In addition to the Typhoon aircraft, the wider deal is expected to include four European multi-purpose frigates (FREMM), manufactured by Italian ship company Fincantieri, 20 patrol ships, 20 M-346 warplanes, and an observation satellite.
The source added that the Italian aerospace and defense company Leonardo will receive about 60 percent of the price of the aircraft, developed by a consortium of aerospace and defense companies from the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Negotiations over the arms deal have taken place amid tensions between Egypt and Italy regarding the 2016 torture and murder of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found on the outskirts of Cairo.
An Italian investigation had accused members of the Egyptian security services of being behind the killing, however, Cairo has repeatedly denied any involvement.
Egypt is among the top 10 importers of arms worldwide, with a total of $22bn worth of arms bought between 2010 and 2020.
Since Sisi seized power in a military coup in 2013, European Union countries and the UK have significantly increased their arms sales to Egypt, despite protests over human rights abuses in the country.