Saudi Arabia and Egypt Eye Mistral Warships

2 MINS READAug 28, 2015 | 15:55 GMT

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Saudi Arabia and Egypt want to buy two Mistral warships that France originally agreed to sell to Russia. The French-Russian deal was cancelled because of Russia's ongoing military assistance to rebels in Ukraine. Despite the considerable obstacles Saudi Arabia and Egypt would have to overcome before they could effectively utilize Mistral-class ships, the vessels could eventually offer these Arab countries increased capability to respond to threats in the region.

Mistrals are flexible amphibious assault platforms that are ideal for the projection of force from the sea. The warship can carry up to 40 tanks, 70 armored personnel carriers, up to 900 combat troops and 45 light helicopters in varying combinations. However, the ships have little ability to defend themselves and rely on other surface warships to escort them and provide protection.

While Saudi Arabia may be willing to finance the acquisition of the Mistrals for themselves and Egypt, both countries lack trained crews to operate the ships. More importantly, they lack well-trained forces to deploy from the warships. Additionally, the Mistrals in question were specifically built for the Russians, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt will undoubtedly have to refurbish and modify the vessels to suit their own particular command, control, communications and climate requirements. In even the best-case scenario, it would take years for the Mistrals to become fully operational in the region.

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