Egyptian 'Rafale pilot' killed in crash

Egyptian 'Rafale pilot killed in crash', as France promises full delivery of fighter jets
2 min read
29 January, 2019
The Egyptian pilot was named as Major Mohtady al-Shazly. He was laid to rest in the town of El-Bagour in the north Egypt governorate of Manoufia on Monday night.
Egypt and France signed a $6.8 billion contract for the delivery of fighter jets [AFP]

A high-ranking Egypt Air Force (EAF) pilot who has reportedly operated French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jets in missions over Libya was buried in his home village on Monday after being killed in a crash sometime last week. 

The pilot was named as Major Mohtady al-Shazly. He was laid to rest in the town of El-Bagour in the north Egypt governorate of Manoufia on Monday night.

"The Armed Forced did not give us full information about the circumstances of his death, telling us he died in a routine training mission," a relative of Shazly told The New Arab's Arabic edition, asking not to be named.

According to Egyptian press reports, Shazly, whose callsign is 'Cobra', led the first Egyptian airstrike in Libya's city of Derna against jihadist targets after Islamic State militants executed a number of Egyptian Coptic hostages.

It comes at an embarrassing time for both Egypt and France as Emmanuel Macron visits Egypt, an initial report on the Egypt Defense Review blog suggested the crash involved a Rafale, citing unnamed sources. 

However, another defence blog citing Egyptian military sources, denied a Rafale jet was involved. Instead, it shared reports suggesting the pilot crashed during a training sortie using a K-8E Karakorum jet trainer.

The New Arab has contacted Dassault Aviation, the maker of the Rafale and the Egyptian Ministry of Defence but has not yet received a response.

In February 2015, Egypt and France signed a 5.2-billion-euro ($6.8 billion) contract for the delivery of 24 of the Dassault-made jets, of which up to 14 have been delivered and put in service.

During his visit to Egypt this week, French President Emmanuel Macron promised France will deliver the remaining Rafale fighter in the coming months.

Activists and NGOs have urged Frace to halt arms sales to Egypt over its human rights record, however, Macron has dismissed using such pressure. 

Asked specifically if human rights issues could affect specific arms sales, such as one under discussion for additional Rafale advanced fighter jets to Egypt, Macron said such matters were unrelated.

"I would differentiate between the two subjects, they are not linked for us and they never were."