Egypt and France began on Sunday a joint military exercise termed as the “Ramses-2016” in the coastal city of Alexandria along the Mediterranean.
According to Egyptian military, the joint venture off the coast of Egypt will go on for several weeks. This includes both air and naval forces training together to strengthen both military in combating threats.
“Both Navy and Air forces of Egypt and France have commenced a team exercise called the Ramses-2016 in Egypt and this joint venture will go on for several weeks off the coast of Alexandria (north) and in the Egyptian airspace,” read the press statement released by the Egyptian military.
The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is joining the maneuvers with the Egyptian navy in preparation for a reduced coalition offensive against Islamic State’s deepening grip on Libya.
Thiswill be the Egyptian navy’s first joint exercise with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier; and also the first drill to be conducted by the new Egyptian missile frigate Tahya Misr (photo), which underwent a series of exercises after it was delivered by the French DCNS naval shipbuilders last June.
The Charles de Gaulle departed the Persian Gulf Monday, February 22 and reached the eastern Mediterranean in the first week of March. The Egyptian frigate’s weapons systems can shoot down planes and ballistic missiles as well as striking naval or ground targets. But the vessel has been stripped of its regular electronic warfare and satellite communications systems for the exercise - apparently after a quiet understanding between France, Egypt and Israel.
The Egyptian frigate was originally designed to secure the Suez Canal against potential terrorist attacks from the Islamic State networks in the Sinai Peninsula and their offshoots in the Canal cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez.
The warship was moved into the Mediterranean after President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi moved forward on plans for a joint assault with Italy to root out ISIS positions in Libya.
The three powers have agreed to launch this offensive in late April or May.
The joint naval exercise will, meanwhile, drill coordination between the French and Egyptian navies and air forces in readiness for the combat operation. They will practice landing fighter-bombers taking off from the Charles de Gaulle decks at air bases in Egypt’s western desert near the Libyan border, for refueling, reloading munitions or emergency landings, when damaged by enemy fire.
They will also rehearse joint marine landings from French and Egyptian warships.