• Egypt’s appetite for air and naval defence vehicles in full display at Suez Canal opening
  • MidEast countries have been stepping up security spending

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are among 10 countries reported to be interested in buying two French helicopter carriers, after their planned sale to Russia was cancelled due to the Ukraine crisis, according to a report by London-based Reuters on 8 August.

France is an active supplier of military equipment to the region. Egypt’s new Rafale fighter jets, along with its FREMM frigate, were used during a display at the inauguration of the expanded Suez Canal on 6 August.

Egypt is also understood to be negotiating the possible exercise of its option to buy two Gowind corvettes, Reuters has reported. Last year Egypt bought four smaller warships from DCNS, an industrial group owned jointly by the French state and Thales.

Most Middle East countries have recently stepped up spending on security due to threats posed by extremist groups abroad and across their borders.

Other countries believed to be interested in the French warships are Singapore, Brazil and Canada. Sources, however, say the most likely candidate could be Canada since the carriers are designed for cold waters.

France has to find a buyer for the two warships as it does not currently have any requirement for them, and to cover the cost of cancelling the contract with Russia, believed to be worth $1.3bn.

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