Russian troops parade at an airport near Cairo on October 26, 2019 at the start of a 13-day bilateral military exercise involving Russia and Egypt. Photo courtesy of Russian Defense Ministry
Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Russian and Egyptian air forces are involved in a joint training exercise in Egypt, a sign of growing Russian involvement on the African continent.
The 13-day "Arrow of Friendship 1," held in Egypt and ending on Nov. 7, is the first bilateral military exercise by the two countries, and involves large-scale air defense drills, and combat training.
The Egyptian Ministry of Defense called the exercise a "joint cooperation between the Egyptian and Russian armed forces, which reflects the depth of partnership relations and strategic cooperation of both friendly countries in many fields," in a statement at the start of the event.
Over 100 Russian personnel are involved, the Russian defense ministry said.The two counties held a similar exercise in Russia in 2018, involving 400 military personnel, 15 aircraft and several airports.
The air exercises include tests of Russia's Buk-M2E, Tor-M2E, Kub, portable Igla-S and Shilka-M4 air defense missiles, and the Pechora S-125 surface-to-air system.
A week ago, President Vladimir Putin convened a summit of African leaders to enhance Russia's role across the continent with trade, military partnerships and weapons sales among topics of discussion.
Earlier this year, Russia also agreed to equip Egypt with at least 20 Su-35 fighter planes at a cost of $2 billion. Once-strong U.S.-Egyptian ties, and military sales, been strained over human rights issues.
China, too, has increased its presence in Africa. It is now the continent's largest trading partner and has accelerated military and economic partnerships.