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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Egypt launches major exercise as largest Arab naval power

CAIRO — Egypt has launched its largest naval exercise ever.

Officials said the Egyptian Navy began the exercise on Oct. 21 to commemorate the sinking of an Israel Navy destroyer in 1968.

Officials said the exercise, expected to last at least three days, would include the participation of Egypt's frigates, destroyers, fast attack craft and submarine, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Egyptian Navy deploys advanced world class frigates, destroyers, fast missile boats, and submarines outfitted with advanced missiles," Egyptian Navy commander Vice Adm. Mohab Mamish said.

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The Egyptian Navy has been deemed the largest in the Arab world and considerably bigger than that of neighboring Israel. The Egyptian Navy has 10 missile frigates while Israel does not contain any such vessels.

In an Oct. 19 interview with the state-owned Al Ahram daily, Mamish said the navy has been undergoing a major modernization program. He said the navy, with 18,500 personnel, has been enhanced in cooperation with such suppliers as Germany, Russia and the United States.

"The Egyptian Navy is always on alert to guard our shores and economic interests and vital facilities," Mamish said.

Officials said a major Egyptian Navy project was the procurement of three fast attack craft from the United States. They said the FACs would significantly enhance maritime and other naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.

In the interview, Mamish said Egypt has acquired advanced missiles and torpedoes. He said the unidentified missiles, which have undergone trials, were supplied to naval submarines.

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