France delivers three Rafale fighter-planes to Egypt

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France’s Dassault Aviation on Monday handed over three Rafale fighter jets to Egypt, the first sold abroad in the 14 years it has been building the versatile but hard-to-sell plane. Cairo signed an order for 24 Rafales in February

The three planes were handed over at a ceremony attended by Egypt’s ambassador to France Ehad Badawy and Egyptian air force general Ragga Khalil in southern France.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed the contract for 24 Rafales in Cairo in February, after a record six months of negotiation, and the delivery of the first three on Tuesday will break another record.

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They will take part in the ceremony to open the new Suez Canal, a project started a year ago on Sisi’s orders.

Badawy on Monday praised the plane’s versatility, useful to Egypt’s military government, which faces Islamist insurgency in Sinai, the west of its own territory and in neighbouring Libya.

Cairo has also ordered air-to-ground missiles from French company Sagem, part of Safran, to equip the Rafales.