GABORONE, Botswana — The Russian company United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation reported 'great progress' in negotiations for the sale of radio-electronic communication systems to equip the Egyptian Navy's two new Mistral-class helicopter carriers.
The Egyptian Navy ordered the two amphibious assault carriers from France late in 2015 after cancellation of the initial order from Russia, which provided its own radio and electronic systems for installation in the vessels.
Along with several armament, command-and-control and navigation systems, the Russian radio and electronic equipment was stripped off the vessels in line with the terms of the cancellation of the sale.
Last week, Russian media outlet Sputnik News quoted an unnamed spokesman of the United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (UIMC) who said Egypt showed 'great interest' in acquiring completely different radio-electronic systems — designed to its own specifications — to equip its helicopter carriers.
"Negotiations are continuing with Egypt on the delivery of radio-electronic equipment for the Mistral helicopter carriers. It is already completely clear that the communication equipment stripped from the Mistrals that was meant for the Russian Navy will not be delivered to Egypt.
"The possibility of preparing a completely different set of equipment specially for Egypt is currently under discussion," the spokesman said. Consultations for the possible sale began in November 2015, according to reports.
Although it lost the two helicopter carriers, Russia has earned massively from the Egyptian Navy acquisition because the North African country has turned to Moscow to acquire all the military equipment required to turn the vessels into practical defense assets.
The Egyptian Navy already ordered the 46 naval versions of the Kamov (Ka-52K) "Katran" — aka the "Hokum B" under its NATO reporting name — attack helicopters to equip its helicopter carriers.
The versatile aircraft will be supplied by JSC Russian Helicopters, with deliveries set to begin in late 2016 and is set for completion by the end of 2017. Egypt acquired the two vessels in October 2015 after France terminated the $1.28 billion Mistral deal with Moscow.
The move followed a European Union decision to impose economic sanctions against Russia to protest its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.
Egypt is seeking radio and electronic equipment worth at least US$1 billion to equip and operationalize the Mistral helicopter carriers.