The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

More on Egypt's military shopping frenzy

Following up on the recent post about Egypt's recent military procurement, here's a phenomenally stupid, or just disingenuous, article from the Jerusalem Post (yes what else would you expect):

In a sign of mounting concern about Teheran's missile capability, the Egyptian military recently expressed interest in purchasing the Russian-made, advanced S-300 and S-400 air defense systems.

The S-300 is highly effective against aircraft and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously, while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 km. and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters.

The S-400 is a more advanced model that is effective not just against aircraft, but also against long-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Its range is reportedly 400 km.

Egypt is also working on improving its air force and recently received approval from the Pentagon to buy 12 Apache Longbow attack helicopters.

Yes, that's right, Egypt is really really worried about an Iranian missile attack!

Egypt, like any country, has a very legitimate interest in wanting to beef up its air defenses, but for planning purposes its traditional enemy remains Israel. There is no other conventional military threat on its borders. And there is certainly little risk of a war between Iran and Egypt (what are the Iranians going to do? Invade or fly over Israel to get to Cairo?) So whatever negotiations are taking place between Egypt and Russia over this air and missile defense system, they may simply be about business, about Egypt's desire to acquire superior US technology instead (i.e. it wants to show that it has other options), and about a long-term strategic goal of planning against traditional contingencies. Or it may just be the usual Israeli waffling on about how everyone around them is arming up, even though they have a massive technical military superiority.

But the coming Iran attack on Egypt? Give me a break.