Europe

Egypt warship: First French-made Mistral ship handed over

The Gamal Abdel Nasser in Saint Nazaire shipyard on 15 May 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Gamal Abdel Nasser was called the Vladivostok before it changed from Russian to Egyptian hands

Egypt has received the first of two advanced warships from France in a deal worth $1bn (£692m).

The Mistral helicopter carriers were originally made for Russia, but the contract was cancelled in 2014 over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The first of the ships, which has been named after the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser, was handed over at a ceremony in western France.

The second ship, the Anwar Sadat, will arrive in Egypt in September.

Egypt is fighting a long-running insurgency in its northern Sinai region and fears being affected by the conflict in neighbouring Libya.

Egypt's Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi, attending the ceremony in Saint-Nazaire, said the ships gave Egypt the "advanced capabilities in confronting terrorism within our borders and on our shores.

"It increases our combat capabilities and our ability to carry out long-term missions at sea," he added.

The Mistral is known as the "Swiss army knife" of the French navy for its versatility, Reuters news agency reports.

It can store up to 16 helicopters, has enough space to land six helicopters and is equipped with the latest missile defence and radar navigation systems, according to Egyptian state television.

The Gamal Abdel Nasser, which had been named the Vladivostok before it switched from Russian to Egyptian ownership, is expected to arrive in Alexandria in the coming weeks.

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