By Jean-Michel Guhl
After eight intensive weeks of conversion training at BA 118 in Mont-de-Marsan, completed by a series of test flights at BA 125 in Istres, the first Egyptian Air Force Rafale crews are now getting ready to leave France for Egypt on-board the first three aircraft of a total 24 Rafales order only secured at the end of last February. Rafale DM01 (9251), 02 (9252) and 03 (9253), all now sporting the black-white-red roundels and the flag of Egypt have been ferried to Cairo West on 21st of July.
All three aircraft diverted from a previous French Air Force order are of the latest F3 standard with Thales RBE2 AESA radar and MBDA DDM-NG all-round infra-red detection system. They are expected to open the big air and naval parade expected to take place over the new branch of the Suez Canal this coming 9 August.
The 21 further Dassault Rafales earmarked for Egypt are scheduled to be delivered over the coming 18 months with deliveries ending by the the end of next year. 13 more duals (Rafale DM) and 8 single-seaters (Rafale EM). After completion of the Egyptian order, export of Rafales to Qatar will then start in 2017 and end by the beginning of 2019. Meanwhile, as India still remains with tongue in cheek regarding its standing order for 36 Rafales, no delivery date has been announced yet by Dassault Aviation.