Egypt seeks to modernize its air fleet with the possible acquisition of 12 J-10 Firebird fighters

To strengthen its air capability, Egypt is negotiating with China to acquire 12 Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragon fighters, also known as Firebirds.

If the agreement is finalized, this North African country will become the third operator of this formidable aircraft, thus joining China and Pakistan. The acquisition of the J-10 Firebirds would allow Egypt to make up for its aging fleet of F-16 jets and make up for the absence of Russian Su-35 fighters that were not delivered due to various geopolitical circumstances.

Negotiations between Egypt and China

Egypt is in negotiations with China to expand its fighter inventory, specifically the Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragon. Reliable sources indicate that senior military commanders from the Cairo Ministry of Defense will meet the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group representatives during the upcoming Langkawi expo in Malaysia.

The acquisition of these 12 J-10 Firebird fighters represents a great interest for Egypt, which is looking to modernize its air force.

J-10C Features

The J-10C, the version that Egypt is considering purchasing, is the latest and improved in this line of Chinese aircraft. Equipped with a new AESA radar and a PL-10 infrared imager, the J-10C offers significant improvements over its predecessor, the J-10B.

In addition, its powerful Shenyang WS-10 turbofan engine provides a thrust of 120-140 kilonewtons.

China impresses the world with state-of-the-art aerobatics.

Current situation of the Egyptian air fleet

The Egyptian Air Force relies mainly on Soviet-made MiG-29 aircraft and French Dassault Rafales. Although there were attempts to procure Russian Su-35 Flanker-E fighters, the deal fell through due to production and delivery issues. This situation led Egypt to consider alternatives, and this is where the possibility of acquiring the Chinese J-10 Firebird fighters arises.

Challenges of Keeping F-16s Up to Date

With a fleet of 240 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, 50 of which are used for training, Egypt faces the challenge of keeping these aircraft, which have not received upgrades in many years, up to date. Unlike Turkey, which has also had problems modernizing its F-16s, Egypt has looked outside of traditional suppliers for alternatives.

The choice of China as a potential supplier of J-10C fighters could mark a new chapter in the history of the Egyptian Air Force.

The advantageous position of Egypt in the context of the war in Ukraine

In addition to reinforcing its air fleet, Egypt is in an advantageous position in the context of the war in Ukraine. The country is rumored to be willing to supply Ukraine with an unlimited amount of ammunition for anti-aircraft missile systems and Abrams tanks.

As one of the top producers of Abrams tanks after the United States, Egypt could use this position to pressure Washington to modernize its F-16s.

Characteristics and armament of the J-10C

The J-10C is considered one of the most powerful single-engine fighters in the world today. With a length of approximately 17 meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 19,000 kg, this aircraft has a maximum range of 1,850 km and a maximum flight speed of Mach 1.8. Its flight ceiling reaches 18,000 meters.

Armament-wise, the J-10C is equipped with a Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 machine gun for close air combat or low-altitude raids. With a total of 11 hardpoints, the aircraft can carry a wide variety of weapons, such as air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, laser-guided bombs, glide bombs, satellite-guided bombs, and unguided bombs.

Impact of the Acquisition of the J-10 Firebird for Egypt

If Egypt finalizes the purchase of the 12 J-10 Firebird fighters, it will become the third country to operate this formidable aircraft, thus strengthening its air capacity and modernizing its fleet.

The decision to turn to China for a long-term solution represents a significant step for the Egyptian Air Force in its quest to stay current and competitive on the international military landscape.


Egypt’s possible acquisition of 12 J-10 Firebird fighters represents a significant advance in its goal of strengthening its air capability. These negotiations with China would allow Egypt to modernize its aircraft fleet, making up for aging F-16s and making up for the lack of Russian Su-35 fighters.

With enhanced features and a powerful engine, the J-10C presents itself as an attractive option for Egypt as it seeks to stay competitive on the international military scene.