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GABORONE, Botswana — The Egyptian parliament has approved government plans to secure a €3.37 billion (US $3.76 billion) loan to fund the acquisition of weapons and military equipment, including Navy vessels and fighter jets, as part of the country's ongoing force modernization program, a new parliamentary report has said.

According to a recent weekly report of parliamentary proceedings, the Egyptian Ministry of Defense approached parliament early this year seeking approval for a defense loan to be advanced by a group of French banks led by Credit Agricole for Companies and Investment. The military hardware will be supplied by several French defense equipment manufacturers.

"These banks will provide a cash loan of 3,375.54 million euros, representing 60 percent of the value of French military equipment that will be delivered to Egypt. The total value of this equipment is estimated at 5,625.9 million euros, with Egypt to pay the remaining 40 percent,” the report also revealed.

The loan has since been guaranteed by the Egyptian Ministry of Finance. According to the parliamentary report, the loan was overwhelmingly approved by the House, which felt that it is necessary to boost the firepower of the Army, the Navy and Air Force in the fight against domestic and regional terrorism.

The Egyptian defense forces have been battling several local jihadist groups and Al-Qaida and Islamic State affiliate militias in the Sinai Peninsula since 2013. In addition, the country faces enhanced security threats from dozens of trans-national terrorist groups — including IS — which have taken advantage of the political and security chaos to set up in neighboring Libya.

Like Russia, France has cashed in on the spike in Egyptian defense spending since 2013 to sell navy vessels, fighter jets and aerial defense systems. In 2014, Egypt ordered four Go-Wind corvettes and 45 MM-40-3 Exocet missiles to arm the vessels.

Delivery is set to start later this year and be completed by the end of 2017. Egypt has also ordered 24 Rafale jets and 500 AASMs and 150 MICA air-air missiles to arm the aircraft. In 2015, the Egyptian Navy acquired two French-made Mistraal Class helicopter carriers and ended the year with a giant order of 46 Russian-made Kamov - Ka-52 attack helicopters for the vessels.

Email: onkala@defensenews.com

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