Commando units from Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Cyprus are taking part in war games at an Egyptian military base near the Mediterranean coast, a spokesman for the Egyptian military has said.
Col Gharib Abdel Hafez said the war drills were taking place at Mohammed Naguib’s military base north-west of Cairo and in the northern military region, an area west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, after a ceremony opened proceedings on Sunday.
The drills, code-named Hercules-2, “are a continuation of developing and reinforcing Egypt’s military ties with friendly and brotherly nations for the sake of entrenching the foundations of military co-operation”, Col Abdel Hafez said.
“They aim to exchange expertise regarding the use of technologically advanced weapons and hardware.”
Under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Egypt has made joint war games involving the militaries of Arab and western nations a cornerstone of plans to modernise and upgrade its armed forces.
Egypt’s multibillion-dollar weapons procurement
The focus on war games comes after Egypt’s multibillion-dollar procurement in recent years of cutting-edge weapons from manufacturers in Russia, France, Italy and Germany to bolster the capabilities of the Egyptian army.
Since the late 1970s, Egypt has received weapons from the US under a military aid programme currently running at $1.3 billion a year. It has secured US-made fighter jets, tanks, air-to-air missiles, helicopter gunships, warships and artillery.
The frequent participation of Greece and Cyprus in military drills with Egypt underlines the close ties forged between the three nations and their common interest in protecting the natural gasfields of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Together with Israel, Lebanon, France and Italy, they hope to turn the region into a major energy centre, serving as a permanent supplier to western Europe.
The participation of Saudi and UAE units in Hercules-2 is the latest in a series of joint air, sea and land war games in which the two regional powerhouses join forces with ally Egypt.
Hercules-2 will include an arms exhibition and lectures on Cyber security, Col Abdel Hafez said.