Despite increasing calls to stem the sale of American-made F-16 airplanes to Egypt, plans are going ahead to supply the Middle East’s newest democracy with the latest model of the jet fighter.
The deal, originally signed two years ago before Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. is expected to close very soon, the English-language Israel Today reported. The first four of the 20 jets are due to be delivered on Jan. 22, Lebanese outlet Ya Libnan reported. The transaction will cost U.S. taxpayers $213 million, as the jets are part of the annual $1 billion military aid package to Egypt, as agreed upon in the 1979 Camp David Accords with Israel.
Basically, the U.S. will give Egypt modern arms and armaments, as long as Egypt promises not to use said arms against Israel.
The U.S. also provides Israel with military aid, to the tune of about $3 billion annually.
This most recent sale of F-16s will upgrade the Egyptian military by replacing the older model F-16s that Egypt has been using since the 1980s, state news site Al Ahram said. Some U.S. politicians, apprehensive about selling to a government whose loyalties to the West are still in question, are unhappy about the deal and calling for its cancellation.
Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter last week that “the U.S. should not be providing military assistance to a regime that supports Hamas and is looking more and more like a dictatorship.”
Buchanan’s fellow Floridian representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, accused President Barack Obama last month of “simply throwing money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States.”
Buchanan and Ros-Lehtinen are probably out of luck. F-16s are made by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, a state with a lot of lobbying power that would very much like to continue making these planes.
“This is a great day for Lockheed Martin and a testament to the enduring partnership and commitment we have made to the government of Egypt,” John Larson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 programs, said as quoted by anti-imperialist blog Antiwar.com.
“We remain committed to providing our customer with a proven, advanced 4th Generation multirole fighter.”
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.