Serbian MoD in Egypt – another step towards Rafale acquirement?

At the beginning of August 2023, the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević paid an official visit in the Arab Republic of Egypt. During that visit, the Serbian MoD and his delegation met with the highest Egyptian authorities, as well as visited the 203rd Tactical Fighter Wing in Gebel El Basur.

The 203rd Tactical Fighter Wing, or more precisely, the 34th Squadron being part of the Wing, is currently the sole unit of the Egyptian Air Force being equipped with French-made, Dassault Rafale multirole jet fighters.

In 2015, Egypt ordered twenty-four Rafale fighters, therefore becoming the first export customer for that type of aircraft. The order was placed for sixteen DM (two-seat) and eight EM (single-seat) aeroplanes that were then delivered until the end of 2019.

Then, in 2022, the country decided to extend its Rafale fleet by ordering another batch of thirty aircraft. The second purchase means the Rafale will soon become the second most numerous jet fighter with the Egyptian Air Force, with F-16 Fighting Falcon being still the first.

In March of 2023, the fleet of Egyptian Rafale jets officially celebrated its 10,000 flight hours mark.

During his visit at Gebel El Basur air base, the Serbian MoD and his accompanying delegation met with personnel of the Egyptian Air Force and get learned about Rafale aircraft and its role with the country´s air force, as well as get acquainted with training facilities and flight simulator.

Serbian official delegation visiting the 203rd Tactical Fighter Wing

Since a few years, information related to potential purchase of Dassault Rafale jets by Serbia were appearing in official government releases, and then in Serbian media, on regular basis. At the beginning of 2023, Vučić disclosed to the local press that he was currently negotiating the purchase of twelve French fighters and the value of that contract was estimated for 3 billion EUR. The aforementioned information was then confirmed in June of that year, with additional note that price of the Rafale aircraft is still one of the most important issues.

Currently, the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence operates a fleet of MiG-29 fighters that were not long ago acquired from Russia. Although the Serbian authorities repeatedly expressed their will to diversify the types of aircraft used by the Serbian Air Force, lack of appropriate financial resources was still preventing any purchase contract to be concluded.

In the meantime, Croatia, a neighbouring state to Serbia, is currently finalizing its purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters. In 2021, the country decided to acquire twelve second-hand French fighters for approximately 1 billion EUR, with the delivery scheduled for 2024. A few days ago, a photo with Croatian-marked Rafale tail spread the social media, thus confirming the country should receive its new aircraft as scheduled.

Serbian official delegation visiting the 203rd Tactical Fighter Wing

Cover photo – Dassault Rafale of the French Air and Space Force, Photo 1 and 2 – © Министарство одбране Републике Србије / MoD Republic of Serbia. MoD press releases were used.