The Egyptian Navy is said to be close to purchasing a pair of European Multi-Purpose Frigate (FREMM) warships from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.
On February 4, 2020, French newspaper La Tribune reported that Egypt is “very close” to signing a deal with Fincantieri for the procurement of the two FREMM frigates. According to the report, these frigates may be drawn from the Italian Navy’s procurement program – the vessels Spartaco Schergat and Emilio Bianchi, launched in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively – enabling Fincantieri to sell the vessels for an estimated cost of €1.2 billion.
To support the purchase, Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) will issue an export financing loan worth up to €500 million.
Earlier in the week, Italian media had reported that the two sides were in discussion on a possible FREMM agreement. Il Sole 24 ORE Radiocor also reported that CDP would provide export financing.
Egypt’s interest in the FREMM frigates – as well as its decision last year to procure up to six warships from Germany, at least three of which are Meko frigates – comes as Cairo’s relationship with France has cooled. La Tribune reported that French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to press his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on human rights during the former’s visit to Egypt in January of last year likely played a role in Egypt’s shifting gears on military procurement towards other European suppliers.
The Egyptian military procured a range of equipment from France after 2015, including Rafale fighter jets, Mistral helicopter carriers, a FREMM frigate, and Gowind corvettes. Follow-on agreements for a dozen Rafales and two Gowind corvettes had been expected but now appear to be frozen, La Tribune reported.