Source: Military Watch Magazine
The Egyptian Air Force has deployed a contingent of its most capable fighter aircraft, the MiG-29M, to neighbouring Sudan for the Protectors of the Nile 2020 military exercises. This follows a Western-backed coup in Khartoum in 2019 which saw the administration of longstanding Western adversary Omar Al Bashir toppled, with Sudan’s political future still uncertain as nationalist, pro-Western, Islamist and other factions continue to vie for influence. The MiG-29M deployments has been met with a number of different interpretations, including a sign of support for the Sudanese Military amid growing instability internally. The Sudanese Air Force itself operates the MiG-29 as its primary frontline fighter, albeit the older but still relatively modern MiG-29SE variant, which until 2015 had a significant qualitative edge over anything in the Egyptian fleet due largely to its use of active radar guided R-77 missiles. Egypt itself was able to acquire the R-77 from 2015 alongside its MiG-29M jets – providing the most advanced air to air missile in both fleets and Egypt’s only active radar guided missile with a range exceeding 100km.
Interoperability between Egyptian and Sudanese air units is expected to be high, and could improve considerably as the two carry out more joint exercises. With Cairo aligning itself closely with Russian since the overthrow of its Western backed Islamist government in 2013, and opposing Western designs in both Syria and Libya, greater Egyptian involvement in Sudan has the potential to tip the balance against of Western interests in the country, reversing many of the gains made since the coup against the Bashir government. While relations between the two East African states have historically been far from positive, with territorial disputes surrounding the Egyptian-held Hala’ib triangle area ongoing, the emergence of common perceived threats to both countries could well lead to the forging of a robust partnership.