Obama approves first U.S. jet fighter sale to Egypt in a decade

The administration of President Barack Obama has approved an Egyptian request for the advanced F-16 multi-role fighter.

Under the proposal, Egypt would receive 24 F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft in a $3.2 billion deal.

“The proposed sale will allow the Egyptian Air Force to modernize its aging air force by acquiring new fighter aircraft, thereby enabling Egypt to support both its own air defense needs and coalition operations,” the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Oct. 14.

This marked the first F-16 sale to Egypt since 1999. Egypt’s most advanced F-16 has been the Block 40, which was not equipped to deploy advanced missiles and related systems

Officials said this would be the first of several Egyptian requests for the F-16. They said Cairo, which would require five years of American training, would pay for the deal through the annual U.S. aid of $1.3 billion. Egypt has a fleet of more than 200 F-16s.

Congress has 30 days to block the Egyptian request. Officials said that neither the House nor Senate, despite concern over Egypt’s shoddy human rights record, would seek to stop the F-16 sale.

The Pentagon agency said the F-16s requested by Egypt would contain either the F100-PW-229 or F110-GE-129 engine as well as APG-68[V]9 radars.

The platforms would also contain advanced reconnaissance and electronic warfare systems as well as the Sniper or Lightening targeting pods.

The proposed sale was estimated to be much more expensive than a U.S. project to sell Morocco 24 F-16s for $2.4 billion. Officials said the Moroccan project, unlike that of Egypt, did not include a request to build air bases.

Egypt has also requested conformal fuel tanks for the F-16s. Officials said the fuel tanks would enable long-range air strikes.

“Delivery of this weapon system will greatly enhance Egypt’s interoperability with the U.S., making it a more valuable partner in an important area of the world, as well as supporting Egypt’s legitimate need for its own self-defense,” DSCA said. It could also cause concern for neighboring Israel as Egypt has attacked them in the past.

Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-16, has been deemed the prime contractor. Other contractors include BAE Systems, Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

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