Egypt looking to buy submarines from Germany?

A Class 209 submarine built for South Africa in 2005

Based on news reports, Egypt is in the process of buying German built submarines.

A German government spokesman declined to comment on an article which appeared in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram last Friday and cited the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian navy, Osama al-Gindi, as saying: “We have agreed to a deal with Germany to procure two submarines of the latest 209 Class.”

On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said only: “There has been no change in the German government’s position towards Israel, in the commitment the German government feels towards Israel’s security.”

But he declined to comment on the supposed deal, saying the government maintained secrecy concerning matters dealt with by the Federal Security Council, a government committee that decides on sensitive weapons export deals.

If this defense deal is finalized, the submarines will give the Egyptian navy a new dynamic in the region. Having such a weapon system will surely increase Egypt’s power projection in the region, especially towards Israel and Saudi Arabia, with the only the U.S. having superior capabilities.

Egypt’s small navy has four aging Chinese-built Romeo-class Project 633submarines acquired in the 1970s. These were to have been replaced years ago but financial constraints delayed the move.

Germany has been looking to expand its arms exports in region and this showcases how defense exports have become important for western nations amid shrinking defense budgets. Compared to France, Russia, U.K. and U.S., Berlin lags behind.  This will also give Germany a chance to enhance its strategic position in the area.

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