France is seeking to reduce its reliance on U.S. approval for French arms exports. France has therefore decided to remove an American component from the SCALP cruise missile so that it can proceed with a new sale of Rafale fighters to Egypt.
Answering questions on weapons exports in the country’s National Assembly, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that the decision by the United States to use the International Trade in Arms Regulation (ITAR) agreement to block the sale of the air-launched land-attack cruise missile to Egypt could be circumvented if domestically-built parts are used instead, but that this would take time. Parly said, “It is true that we depend on this (U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations) mechanism: We are at the mercy of the Americans when our equipment is concerned”. “What is the solution? That the manufacturer of these missiles, namely MBDA, make the investment in research and technology to be able to make a similar component, which would avoid ITAR,” she added.”
Egypt could still receive MBDA SCALP cruise missiles from France, if it is willing to accept a delay while US-manufactured components are replaced with French ones.
As noted by Parly in her response, the issue of the ITAR regulation is not just affecting the sale of the SCALP missile to Egypt, but also of the Dassault Rafale that will carry it. Cairo is looking to add to the 24 aircraft it has already procured from Paris with 12 more, with these additional platforms being equipped with the SCALP missile. According to reports, the Egyptian government will not sign for the new aircraft unless the missiles are included.