Egypt will become the first foreign buyer of Rafale fighter jets, French officials said Thursday, purchasing 24 of the multi-role French-made aircraft as part of a 5.2 billion-euro (US $5.93 billion) defense deal that will strengthen Cairo’s military might in a tense and violent region. The sale marks the culmination of years of French efforts to sell the Dassault Aviation-built planes. It will also confirm international
recognition of an aircraft that has been used in combat missions over places like Mali, Libya and most recently Iraq, as part of both national and international operations. “Egyptian authorities just let me know today of their intention to buy 24 Rafale combat planes and a multi-mission frigate along with associated equipment,” President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement. He will dispatch French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Cairo on Monday to sign the accord, the statement said.