Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Workshop Intriques: Weapons Espionage

Saw Issandr Al-Amrani's recent post about the JPost article on Egyptian military's purchase of Russian air defense systems. Since the Russians are unlikely to accept anything less than hard currency from the Egyptians for payment it begs the question of where Egypt would get the money for such a purchase, the price of which would undoutedly be very high since the S-400 is presumed to be the best air defense system available.

Well, the logical answer is that they would use US military aid (the Foreign Military Financing Funds that the Egyptians still get every year as an incentive for signing the Camp David Accords in 1979). But, would the US sign on to Egyptian purchases of Russian weaponry, given that there is some built in expectation that the Egyptians would use that money to purchase US defense material and at the very least would not buy material from the Russians?

A possibility I never considered (although now it seems entirely logical) is that the Americans would actually support such an Egyptian-Russian transaction on the premise that the Egyptians would give the Americans a few of the SAMs so they could use them in field tests (as opposed to having to resort to simulations and other computer generated tests. This would be especially beneficial to the US given that many of the countries that have bought these Russian weapons are those likely to be engaged in confrontation with the US in the future.

A former air force guy told me this is pretty common practice, but still something I didn't consider before, and introduces interesting motivations and mechanisms to questions/discussions of patterns of arms sales and military assistance.


Anonymous said...

It is highly possible that the US military aid is equal to the amount of weapons that is bought from the US. If that is the case the Egyptians probably bought this chattel from the Ruskies with their own funds...

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