Military forces of Russia and Egypt are taking part in joint military drills on Egyptian soil, the first such maneuvers in the African continent.
“The Russian-Egyptian exercises involving units of airborne troops of the Russian Federation and the airborne troops of the Arab Republic of Egypt will develop common approaches to locate and destroy illegal armed groups in a desert environment,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Saturday.
The drills, codenamed “Defenders of Friendship 2016,” started Saturday and will last until October 26, aiming to practice joint anti-terrorism actions, the ministry said.
Colonel Andrei Belyakov, chief of the paratroopers’ operative headquarters, also said, “Airborne units have arrived to conduct joint drills in Egypt.”
“These are the first of such drills held on Egyptian territory. We are ready to join the training to share our experience,” the Egyptian brass added.
Russian jets deployed servicemen, armored personnel vehicles and all-terrain vehicle quadbikes, among other hardware brought for the drill including 100 tons of military equipment delivered to Egypt by five IL-76 transport planes.
The military units are being reinforced by combat vehicles (BMD-2s) and armored personnel carriers (BTR-Ds).
Last week, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Moscow and Cairo had agreed to hold the joint drills in mid-October on Egyptian territory to review “anti-terrorist” operations, military tactics, techniques and strategy.
In 2015, Russia and Egypt held their first joint maritime exercises in the Mediterranean near Alexandria.
The “Friendship Bridge 2015” exercises involved five Egyptian ships, including frigates Taba and Dumyat and five Russian vessels, among them the guided missile carrier Moskva and the catamaran hover-borne missile corvette Samum.