Egypt: F-16s on Hold No More


June 30/13: By
state-owned Al-Ahram
click for video

November 2/15: Egypt has received external link four more F-16 Block 52 fighters from the United States, following the release of military aid in March external link by President Obama, which will see a total of twelve F-16s delivered to the country. Eight of the aircraft were delivered in July external link, with these four completing the package.

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Egyptian Air Force F-16D(click to view full) The Egyptian government wants to buy another 24 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft, associated parts, weapons, and equipment to modernize its air force. The October 2009 request, made through the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to Congress, could be worth as much as $3.2 billion to Lockheed Martin and the other contractors involved. The formal request came a few months after the Obama administration conveyed its support for Egypt’s long-standing request to buy the Block 50/52 aircraft, but the request has been a long-standing source of controversy. Eventually, events in Egypt stalled the contract. The Egyptian Air Force is the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 195 F-16s of 220 ordered. Their overall fighter fleet is a mix of high-end F-16s and Mirage 2000s, low-end Chinese F-7s (MiG-21 copy) bought from the Chinese, a few F-4 Phantom II jets, and upgraded but very aged Soviet MiG-21s and French Mirage 5s. Egypt’s F-16s F-16 fires AIM-7(click to view larger) Egypt receives about $1.3 billion annually in military aid financing, per the terms of the 1976 Camp David Accords with Israel. The total value of this sale, if all options are exercised, […]
F-16D Egypt Over March AFB

Egyptian Air Force F-16D
(click to view full)

The Egyptian government wants to buy another 24 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft, associated parts, weapons, and equipment to modernize its air force. The October 2009 request, made through the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to Congress, could be worth as much as $3.2 billion to Lockheed Martin and the other contractors involved. The formal request came a few months after the Obama administration conveyed its support for Egypt’s long-standing request to buy the Block 50/52 aircraft, but the request has been a long-standing source of controversy. Eventually, events in Egypt stalled the contract.

The Egyptian Air Force is the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 195 F-16s of 220 ordered. Their overall fighter fleet is a mix of high-end F-16s and Mirage 2000s, low-end Chinese F-7s (MiG-21 copy) bought from the Chinese, a few F-4 Phantom II jets, and upgraded but very aged Soviet MiG-21s and French Mirage 5s.

Egypt’s F-16s

AIM-7 from F-16

F-16 fires AIM-7
(click to view larger)

Egypt receives about $1.3 billion annually in military aid financing, per the terms of the 1976 Camp David Accords with Israel. The total value of this sale, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $3.2 Billion – but the October 2009 DSCA request was only the first step toward a contract, and not a contract in and of itself. Since Congress didn’t block the sale within 30 days, the the parties could negotiate a contract and order. Long-lead buys began in March 2010, but the main contract actually took until December 2012. It was almost immediately controversial, and Egypt’s descent to the brink of civil war has only made it more so.

Note that Egypt’s new F-16C/Ds may be Block 52 aircraft, but they differ in one important respect from their counterparts in places like Singapore and Israel. Instead of relying on the modern, active-homing AIM-120 AMRAAM as their medium range air to air missile, Egypt’s F-16s depend on the older AIM-7P Sparrow. The Sparrow uses semi-active radar homing, which means the launching fighter needs to maintain a continuous illumination lock on the target aircraft. In contrast, an Israeli F-16i equipped with AMRAAM missiles can achieve lock, launch, then break lock and evade while the missile guides itself to the target.

That leaves Egyptian jets at a notable disadvantage against Israel, but in a confrontation with the air forces of neighbors like Libya or Sudan, Egypt’s combination of better fighters and supporting E-2 AWACS planes would make even Sparrow-armed F-16s extremely dangerous.

Contracts & Key Events

2014 – 2015

November 2/15: Egypt has received four more F-16 Block 52 fighters from the United States, following the release of military aid in March by President Obama, which will see a total of twelve F-16s delivered to the country. Eight of the aircraft were delivered in July, with these four completing the package.

Aug 3/15: The US started sending F-16 Block 52 fighters to Egypt, with eight aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of July. Following a thaw in relations between the two states in late March, twelve F-16s were cleared for delivery, along with Abrams tanks and Harpoon missiles. The final four aircraft are expected to be delivered in September/October. The US suspended defense exports to Egypt in October 2013, including the delivery of the the first four F-16s in July 2014. Egypt began looking to Russia for defense hardware in the interim, including a $3 billion contract signed in February 2014, which included MiG-29 Fulcrums, Mi-35 attack helicopters and air defense equipment. Egypt first requested F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft in October 2009.

Oct 1/14: Still frozen. IHS Jane’s offers an Egyptian update, while discussing Iraq’s move away from buying American and toward Russian helicopters:

“…While the Iraq [AH-64D/E] deal might have fallen through, on Saturday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Egyptian Minister of Defense Gen. Sedki Sobhy, and confirmed that the US would lift the hold on delivery of 10 AH-64D Apaches to Egypt “to support their counterterrorism efforts” in the Sinai, according to a Pentagon statement…. The US government is still refusing to ship other items to Egypt, however, including Lockheed Martin-built F-16 C and D aircraft, components for General Dynamics M1A1 tanks, and Boeing’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles.”

Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Iraq passes on Apache buy”.

April 22/14: Thaw and Freeze. The USA will continue with the sale of 10 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, under the excuse that US Secretary of State John Kerry will “soon certify to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” On the other hand, the USA won’t be certifying that Egypt is taking “steps to support a democratic transition” until the coming elections are held. Which will keep the F-16s on hold.

Coincidentally or not, the move comes as Egypt is reportedly negotiating with Russia over a wider arms deal that could include thrust-vectoring MiG-35 fighters. Sources: Al-Monitor, “Washington loosens Egypt’s arms embargo” | NTD.TV, “US Lifts Freeze, Will Deliver Apache Choppers to Egypt” | Times of Israel, “Egypt FM heads to US as helicopter delivery okayed”.


Military overthrows the government and starts shooting political opponents, leading Egypt to the brink of civil war; F-16 sale stalls out.


June 30/13: By
state-owned Al-Ahram
click for video

Aug 17-18/13: You need us – do we need you? The Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips points out that more than 2,000 U.S. military aircraft flew through Egyptian airspace over the last year, supporting missions in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. In addition, 35 – 45 U.S. 5th Fleet naval ships pass through the Suez Canal annually, instead of sailing in across the Pacific or around Africa. That’s one reason the State Department and Pentagon have tried to tread carefully over recent events in Egypt.

On the other hand, it takes two. For the past month and a half, Egyptian anti-Morsy protesters have often carried signs denouncing Barack Obama, and US Ambassador Anne Patterson, as supporters of terrorism and despotism in Egypt. With American and European criticism of the regime mounting, that frustration has now boiled over at an official level, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy saying that:

“The attempts to internationalize the discussions about this event is something that Egypt rejects…. I ask the foreign ministry to review the foreign aid of the past and to see if those aids are used in an optimal way.”

Egypt really does need foreign aid (q.v. July 24-25/13), but if the government believes that nations like China and the Arabian Gulf states can replace America and Europe, even as they continue to solicit and receive targeted humanitarian aid from the West, they may decide to take a page from Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa Model playbook. Sources: USA Today, “U.S. military needs Egypt for access to critical area” | WSJ, “Egypt, U.S. on Collision Course” | Walid Shoebat, “Egyptians Protest Obama outside U.S. Embassy in Cairo” | Washington Post, “Egypt’s protesters find a new villain: the U.S. ambassador” | Winds of Change, “How to Beat an Insurgency: Sri Lanka’s “Rajapaksa Model”.

Aug 15/13: Deal dead? The Egyptian government has shot thousands of people over the last week, with deaths approaching at least 800. The Hill quotes Frank Cevasco, the former chief of the Pentagon’s international programs group, who describes Egypt’s F-16 deal as “dead in the water.” Cevasco refers to a failure of Congressional approval, but that isn’t quite the problem here. Approval has already been given, and a contract signed. He is correct, however, that if the Pentagon didn’t move, Capitol Hill was a problem. There were probably enough votes on Capitol Hill on both sides of the political aisle to pass a targeted resolution that would have stepped in and stopped the F-16 sale. Many Republicans have opposed it from the outset, and recent events would have brought the Progressive caucus to their side, among other Congressional supporters.

That kind of intervention, against the wishes of the President, would be unusual. The USA has a history of suspending spare parts and support after weapons are received, which has already hurt American sales in a number of countries, but that has been done by agreement of the President and Congress. A Congressional revolt and ban would mark a significant escalation, and the Pentagon and the industry don’t want to set that precedent. Hence the Pentagon’s pre-emptive “delay” of the deal. If things settle down in Egypt, which is looking less likely by the day, the F-16 sale could go forward again at the stroke of an administrative pen. Sources: The Hill, “Egyptian fighter deal ‘dead in the water,’ says former DOD official” | WSJ, “Egypt Mosque Standoff Ends Amid Gunfire”.

July 24-25/13: F-16s suspended. The Pentagon decides to “delay” (suspend) Egypt F-16 sale, but the Obama administration and State Department want to keep providing over $1 billion per year in non-military aid. The problem is that the USA has laws that prevent ongoing foreign aid after a military coup. As they did in Libya over the War Powers Act, the Obama administration responds by circumventing the law:

“The senior official did not describe the legal reasoning behind the finding, saying only, “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”

“We will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say,” the official said.”

Egypt has an incipient food supply problem, connected to a balance of payments problem, and its economy has suffered as tourism and other income sources have dried up. So they need the aid, and the Department of State sees that as a way to preserve what little American leverage remains. Source: “Aid to Egypt Can Keep Flowing, Despite Overthrow, White House Decides

Sale Suspended

July 3-8/13: Shootings. On July 3/13, a gunman opens fire on Morsy supporters, killing 16 and wounding 200. Outside Republican Guard HQ in Cairo, a fixed-point clash brews that becomes the 1st of many major clashes and shootings involving the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The military says the protesters tried to storm the building again on July 5, after an earlier attempt on July 5/13 that ended with a some protesters shot. Protesters say they were simply praying on July 8/13 when the military began shooting. The clash leaves 55 Morsy supporters dead.

Surprisingly, the stories of 9 nearby residents interviewed by McClatchy News seem to back the protesters’ version, even though most of those people didn’t like the Muslim Brotherhood and were annoyed by their demonstration. Sources: Pakistan’s DAWN, “Gun attack on Cairo pro-Morsi rally kills 16: ministry” | McClatchy News, “Tales of witnesses to Cairo massacre back pro-Morsi version”.

June 30 – July 3/13: Overthrow. Massive street protests begin, demanding President Morsy’s resignation. The Egyptian military, which some reports allege worked closely with the protesters in advance, issues a statement the next day demanding reconciliation, coupled with a threat of intervention. Morsy offers to form a coalition government, but negotiations fail. On July 3/13, Gen. Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announces that Morsy has been deposed, the constitution suspended, Al Arabiya, “Tahrir Square protesters show President Mursi the ‘red card” | CNN, “Coup topples Egypt’s Morsy; deposed president under ‘house arrest” | CNN op-ed, “Get ready for Egypt’s ‘second revolution'”.

Government overthrown

January – June 2012. Sporadic but substantial protests continue all over Egypt. A June 26/13 speech by President Morsy just before the Tamarod (“Rebellion”) movement’s petition deadline was the final piece in this act, and a hostile Atlantic Council piece points out that it wasn’t exactly conciliatory. At the same time, it’s fair to ask if Morsy’s criticisms of opponents’ refusal to work with the Brotherhood, and of “Deep State” interference, might also be true.

By this juncture, it’s clear that the Islamists and their opponents in Egypt have made up their minds about each other, and aren’t inclined to conciliation. Morsy speech | Atlantic Council, “Morsi’s Pre-Tamarod Speech: Threats, Lies, and Manipulation” | Via Meadia, “Egypt’s Deep State Dilemma”.

2011 – 2012

Main F-16 contract. Internal turmoil.

EAF F-16C over Cairo Protests

2011: EAF F-16C over
Cairo protests
(click to view full)

Dec 22/12: New constitution approved. Morsy’s proposed constitution gets 64% approval in the referendum, and passes.

Dec 17/12: 20 F-16s. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $563 million contract modification for 20 F-16 Block 52s: 16 F-16Cs and 4 F-16Ds. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX, and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/14. The AFLCMC/WWMK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract on behalf of their Foreign Military Sales client. The USAF has confirmed to us that the customer is Egypt (FA8615-10-C-6051, PZ0022).

This contract builds on the $213 million purchase of long-lead items announced on March 2/10, for an announced total of $786 million. The first 4 jets are supposedly set for delivery on Jan 22/13. See also Fox Business News.

Main contract: 20 F-16s

Dec 15-17/12: Egypt’s proposed constitution is ahead by a small margin after votes are counted in half the country, though polling oversight has been sketchy. The 57/42 split is almost certain to widen, however, after votes come in from the other half of the country. That was the pattern in earlier elections, where the more rural areas not only voted for the Muslim Brotherhood, but voted for extreme Salafist parties. Foreign Policy has an interesting look at the referendum data. Meanwhile, Talaat Ibrahim has resigned as Egypt’s top prosecutor in the face of strong opposition within the judicial system, less than a month after Morsy appointed him to the post as part of his November decrees. Foreign Policy | Al Bawaba | Deutsche Welle | Canada’s National Post | OnIslam | Britain’s The Telegraph. Mideast expert Barry Rubin provides the least optimistic view.

Dec 9-10/12: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy annuls the decree expanding his powers, but a referendum on his controversial draft constitution will still go ahead as planned on Dec 15/12. The backpedaling comes in the wake of sustained public protests that have included the burning of buildings. The Egyptian military finally issued a public statement that they would protect the people from violence, and urged both sides to settle matters through negotiation. Implicit: “or else”. BBC | Sky News.

Nov 22/12: Pharaoh? Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy, of the Islamic Brotherhood, issues a series of decrees giving him nearly unlimited powers to enact laws and decrees without recourse or appeal, and removing Egypt’s judiciary from any role in the Islamist proposals for a new constitution based on Shariah Law. The decrees kick off huge demonstrations of 200,000+ people in Tahrir Square, and Egypt’s judges and prosecutors go on strike. Morsy’s response is to call a Dec 15/12 referendum on the new constitution, amid large, organized counter-protests by his supporters. France24 | Russia Today | Turkish Weekly | UAE’s The National | UK’s Sky News.

Aug 14/12: The AICI/ARCHIRODON joint venture in Arlington, VA wins a $66.6 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the design and construction of facility upgrades to support the procurement of F-16 fighter aircraft for the Egyptian Air Force.”

Work will be performed in Egypt, with an estimated completion date of Aug 8/14. There were 23 bids solicited, with 3 bids received by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Winchester, VA (W912ER-12-C-0033).

Aug 13/12: General Disapproval. Newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy, of the Islamic Brotherhood, fires Egyptian Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Hafez Enan and Egyptian Defence Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, and other generals. Tantawi had held that post for over 2 decades under Mubarak. His new defense minister is the head of military intelligence, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. Gen. Mohamed al-Assar was named an assistant defense minister.

The move is generally seen as a substantial weakening of the Army, who had given themselves broad legislative and executive powers after the Islamic Brotherhood was elected. Mr Morsy also issued a decree nullfying that move. So, the showdown begins. Daily Mail | NY Times | LA Times.

Dec 7/11: Contrack International, Inc. in McLean, VA wins a $17.6 million firm-fixed-price contract, to design and build facility upgrades at Cairo West Air Base, Egypt to “support the procurement of F-16 fighter aircraft…”

A total of 19 bids were solicited, with 8 bids received; Work is expected run until Nov 22/12 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Winchester, VA manages the FMS contract, on behalf of their Egyptian client (W912ER-12-C-0007).

Dec 4-6/11: Election Earthquake. Egypt issues results for the 1st round of assigned seats in its Parliamentary elections following Mubarak’s ouster, which focus on the area east of the Nile, and key urban areas like Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, etc. The Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP wins 36.6% of the vote, and 40/102 available seats. The Salafist Al-Nour party, advocating policies similar to Afghanistan’s Taliban, wins 24.4% of the vote, and 26/102 available seats. Both Islamist parties are expected to do even better in Rounds 2 & 3, which cover less urban and more conservative areas; Al-Nour even believes they can pull ahead of the FJP there.

The larger questions of what this means remain open, but memories of Iran’s American equipment after the shah’s fall may still linger in some Washington circles. Wikipedia: results | Agence France Presse | Deutsche Welle | US CFR op-ed.

Oct 6/11: Sniper pods. Lockheed Martin announces that Egypt has become the 13th international customer for their AN/AAQ-33 Sniper, per the Oct 9/09 DSCA request that included up to 12 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods.

Egyptian F-16s have flown with LANTIRN twin pods since the early 1990s, which are more than a generation behind Sniper ATP.

March 4/11: A Reuters report discussing WikiLeaks revelations and what they reveal about American diplomacy and arms sales has this alarming passage:

“Cables from Washington describe U.S. officials’ alarm upon finding sensitive military technologies and weapons were passed into dangerous hands.

But none of those cables describe any concrete punishments for the offending countries. They also don’t suggest any specific changes to the way the violators should be treated in the future.

In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote to U.S. embassy officials in Cairo describing the State Department’s suspicions that Egypt had violated its “end-user agreements” with the U.S. six different times over the prior three years. In one instance, Egyptian defense officials allegedly let a Chinese military delegation examine U.S.-made F-16s and related technical facilities.”

Feb 18/11: Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX receives a $19.8 million contract modification for a Foreign Military Sales program which will provide the government of Egypt with “peculiar support equipment and country standard technical orders.” $7.1 million has been obligated by the ASC/WWMK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8615-10-6051 PO0005).

The recent fall of Egypt’s government leaves Lockheed Martin and the USAF dealing with a military interim government.

2009 – 2010

Recon pods, ACES ECM, engines.

EAF F-16C Block 40

EAF F-16C Block 40
is F-16 #4,000
(click to view full)

Oct 8/10: DB-110 Recon pods. Goodrich Surveillance & Reconnaissance Systems in Chelmsford, MA receives a $1.8 million contract to buy and deploy one DB110 reconnaissance pod system for use on the 20 F-16 C/D Block 52s being purchased by the Egyptian Air Force, under the Peace Vector VII program. The ASC/WINK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contract (FA8620-11-C-3003).

The DSCA request was a competition between Lockheed Martin’s AARS and Goodrich’s DB-110 for up to 4 pods, so further orders could be forthcoming. Egypt is the 8th country to pick Goodrich’s DB-110 system; indeed, Goodrich VP ISR Systems Andrew Chrostowski contends in Goodrich’s release: “Since the DB-110 was selected by Poland’s Ministry of National Defense in 2003, all F-16 FMS (Foreign Military Sale) customers have selected the DB-110 as their reconnaissance system.”

July 20/10: ACES ECM. Raytheon announces that Egypt has picked its ACES Electronic Countermeasures system for its new F-16s, beating ITT’s AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS.

ACES is Raytheon’s latest advanced electronic countermeasures system, comprising a radar warning receiver, jammer and chaff-flare dispenser. Raytheon will provide Lockheed Martin with ACES systems for Egypt’s new “Peace Vector VII” F-16s, as well as related spares and maintenance support.

March 2/10: F-16 Long-Lead. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $213 million contract to provide the government of Egypt with 20 F-16C/D Block 52 multi-role fighter aircraft; support equipment; technical orders and integrated logistics support. At this time, $106 Million has been committed by the 312th AESG/SYK at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8615-10-6051).

Lockheed Martin confirms that this order is for long lead-time items, components bought far in advance so that they’ll be ready when needed on the manufacturing floor. Lockheed Martin release.

Feb 28/10: WikiLeaks. In a US diplomatic cable which urges faster and more efficient processes to respond to Egyptian requests under military technology transfer [TPT = Third Party Transfer] and use agreements, the embassy notes an interesting use for Egyptian F-16s:

“5. (C) Embassy Cairo also would like to reinforce the GOE’s good behavior with regards to submitting the requests by providing timely answers, even if the request is disapproved. In our view this would reinforce the emphasis we have been placing on the need for the GOE to shoulder its end use monitoring responsibilities. The following TPT requests remaining pending: 105MM Ammunition transfer to Saudi Arabia; EG Hawk Missile technical support to Turkey; EG F-16 back seat training ride for Italian AF personnel; EG request to allow Turkey to refurbish F-4 aircraft; and EG request to sell M1A1 tanks to Iraq. We appreciate PM’s consideration of the blanket approval request and look forward to working with PM to effectively streamline the TPT request process. “

The Italians have actually been flying their own rented F-16s as a temporary stopgap, until enough of their new Eurofighters arrive.

Feb 16/10: WikiLeaks. A diplomatic cable from the US post in Ankara, Turkey raises an interesting issue, which may be relevant to Egypt’s new and upgraded F-16s:

“20. (C) [DID: Turkish Minister of National Defense Mehmet Vecdi] Gonul said Turkey was pleased to be part of the joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program… In conclusion, Gonul raised Turkey’s F-16 modernization program and expressed concern that new upgrades precluded Turkish access to computer systems and software modification previously allowed. Turkish Under Secretary for Industry Bayar told SecDef he would pursue this issue in greater detail with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Ash Carter.”

Feb 1/10: F100 engines. Pratt & Whitney announces that the Egyptian Air Force has selected its F100-PW-229 EEP (Engine Enhancement Package) engines, to power its next 24 F-16s, making them Block 52 aircraft. This decision recovers that market for Pratt & Whitney, creates a more favorable environment for F100 engine upgrades or refits among the EAF’s initial F-16 fleet, and ensures that issues with either F-16 engine type can only ground about half of Egypt’s fleet.

The EAF’s first 82 F-16s were F-16 A/B Block 15s and F-16 C/D Block 32s. All used earlier models of Pratt & Whitney’s F100 engine engines, which were reportedly retained in the 1996 upgrade program that brought the “Peace Vector I-II” F-16s to Block 40/42 equivalency. The Peace Vector III-VI deals from 1991-2001, however, delivered 138 F-16 C/D Block 40 fighters with GE’s higher thrust F110 engine. Those F110s are receiving upgrades through a separate Service Life Extension Plan.

Pratt & Whitney’s new F100-PW-229 EEP leverages technology developed for the F-22A Raptor’s F119, and the F-35 Lightning II‘s F135 engine. Development was funded through the USAF, who wanted to meet engine targets for time on wing and cost of ownership, and improve safety and readiness. The F100-PW-229 EEP requires engine depot inspection every 10 years, instead of every 7. The manufacturer also claims up to a 30% cost reduction over the life the engine, and a 25% lower probability of in-flight shutdowns. Upgrades to existing F100-PW-229 engines can happen during normal scheduled maintenance visits, and Pratt & Whitney says that the USAF plans to do that for its fleet.

Also on Feb 1/10, Pratt & Whitney announces that it has begun delivering the first 25 production F100-PW-229-EEP engines to customers, supporting F-16 Block 52 deliveries to Pakistan, and the 2nd batch of F-15Ks for South Korea (the first batch used GE’s F110).

EAF F-16C Block 40s

EAF F-16Cs
(click to view full)

Oct 9/09: Egypt’s official DSCA request [PDF] involves up to 24 of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50/52 Aircraft, with conformal fuel tanks to extend range. Their exact block number would be determined by Egypt’s engine choice. They chose Pratt & Whitney’s F100-PW-229, and can order up to 30 engines. Pratt & Whitney beat GE’s F110-GE-129 Increased Performance Engines (IPE), and so these EAF F-16s will be Block 52 fighters. Built-in equipment will include:

* 30 Northrop Grumman APG-68v9s, the most advanced mechanically-scanned array radars for the F-16, and standard for these models. The request is for 24 installed radars, and 6 spares;
* 28 of General Dynamics’ M61 20mm Vulcan Cannons; 24 as aircraft equipment, plus 4 spares.
* 60 LAU-129/A Common Rail Launchers; they can be fitted to the outer wingtips, and can carry AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missiles;
* 28 of BAE’s AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems without Mode IV;
* 28 defensive systems sets. Raytheon’s Advanced Countermeasures Electronic Systems (ACES, ended up winning. They beat ITT’s AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Systems (AIDEWS), which includes the AN/ALQ-187 Electronic Warfare System and the AN/ALR-93 Radar Warning Receiver. ACES win was a bit of a departure – within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, AIDEWS had been picked for Turkish, Omani, and Pakistani F-16s.
* 28 BAE Systems or Symetrics AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing Systems;
* 28 AN/ARC-238 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGAR) radios without HAVE QUICK I/II;
* 28 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), with Standard Positioning Service commercial code only (as opposed to military m-code used by American F-16s);

Egypt is also asking to buy:

* 4 reconnaissance systems: Goodrich’s DB-110 Reconnaissance Pods won, beating Lockheed Martin F-9120 Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance Systems (AARS).

* 12 surveillance and targeting pods: either Lockheed Martin’s AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER ATP, or Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-28 LITENING. Despite Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, the LITENING’s Israeli origins made Lockheed’s Sniper an almost certain winner. It won, as expected.

Sniper PANTERA Pod

Sniper ATP
(click to view full)

Accompanying services may include base construction services [emphasis DID’s], support equipment, software development/integration, tanker support, ferry services, Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD), repair and return, modification kits, spares and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and related U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX. Other involved firms may include:

* Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control in Dallas, TX
* Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training, and Support in Fort Worth, TX
* BAE Advanced Systems in Greenland, New York
* Boeing Corporation in Seattle, Washington
* Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St Louis, MO; Long Beach, CA; and San Diego, CA
* Raytheon Company in Lexington, MA and Goleta, CA
* Northrop-Grumman Electro-Optical Systems in Garland, Texas
* Northrop-Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore, MD
* United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT
* General Electric Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, OH
* Goodrich ISR Systems in Danbury, CT
* L3 Communications in Arlington, TX
* ITT Defense Electronics and Services in McLean, Virginia
* Symetrics Industries in Melbourne, FL

These F-16s could replace older F-16A/B Block 15 machines, but competing demands make that unlikely. Egypt’s F-4 Phantom II fleet suffers from low readiness levels, and the EAF’s aged Mirage 5s and Soviet-era MiG-21s are also strong candidates for replacement. The Mirage 5s own the air base at Birma/Tanta, SE of Alexandria; while MiG-21 bases include nearby Gabel al-Basur AB, and Assouan AB (Aswan) near the famous dam and Egypt’s southern border with Sudan. Additional military construction would likely be required in order to house F-16s at any of these bases, and construction is one of the items on the DSCA request list.

Egyptian sales often involve industrial offsets and local construction, but there are no known offset agreements in connection with this proposed sale. Some previous EAF F-16C/D aircraft sales have been manufactured in Turkey, under TAI’s partnership with Lockheed Martin.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Egypt involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over a period of 15 years.

F-16 request: 24 Block 50/52s plus add-ons


EAF MiG-21F on display
(click to view full)

Sept 25/09: WikiLeaks. A US diplomatic cable from the embassy in Cairo recommends a sale of new F-16s. Key excerpts:

“REF A is the GOE request to procure twenty-four (24) F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft to support their national defense mission. The GOE long-term plan is to procure a total of forty-five (45) F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft with twenty-four (24) of those being procured at this time and twenty-one (21) additional aircraft being requested in the future when funding permits. Although the aircraft procured will be Block 50 or Block 52 depending upon the engine that the EAF decides to procure, the aircraft will have the software set to comply with Egypt’s non-CISMOA status [DID: Communications & Information Security Memorandum Of Agreement]… The EAF originally procured 220 F-16s over the past 26 years, but has lost 25 through attrition. The 24 requested F-16s would backfill 24 of those lost aircraft. The EAF MiG-21 and F-7 fleets require replacement due to their age and diminishing operational readiness. This new aircraft will replace a minimum estimated total of 180 of those aircraft.”

With respect to the plane’s capabilities:

“…The EAF wishes to procure a unique version of the F-16 Block 50/52 that will be capable of firing the medium-range AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided missiles that are currently in the EAF inventory… The potential exists for the aircraft to be configured with the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) should the US Government decide to release those munitions to Egypt in the future.”

As for the local support infrastructure:

“The EAF has developed wide-scale in-country F-16-specific maintenance/logistics support and has an in-country F-16 Flying Training Unit where new pilots are trained to fly the F-16… The EAF has in-country depot capability to repair over 300 different F-16 parts. Most of these parts are compatible with the EAF version F-16 Block 50/52. The EAF has in-country depot-level aircraft modification capability through the F-16 Falcon-UP modification program. This program and capability enables the EAF to significantly increase the service-life of their current F-16 fleet and any subsequent F-16 procurements. The EAF has established in-country partial depot capability to overhaul certain F-16 engine sections and this capability is upgradeable to support the F-16 Block 50/52. Egypt continually upgrades its avionics testing and repair capability to keep pace with the advancing technology in the F-16 aircraft.”

Sept 16/09: WikiLeaks. A US diplomatic cable from the embassy in Cairo discusses a proposed purchase of night vision equipment for Egypt’s F-16s, including the proposed 24 new machines:

“REF A is the GOE request for pricing and availability of 161 Night Vision Goggles (NVG) sets and the modification of 137 F-16 aircraft to an NVG compatible configuration to support their national defense mission… A site survey conducted by the USG will be required to determine the appropriate type of NVGs to support the EAF mission. 24 of the requested 161 sets will provision the 24 new F-16 aircraft that the EAF currently has requested. The remaining 137 sets will provision 29 Block 15 F-16s, 29 Block 32 F-16s and 79 Block 40 F-16s.”

Aug 11/09: WikiLeaks – Chinese looking at EAF F-16s?. A cable from the US embassy in Cairo discusses end-use agreement violations by Egypt, including the incident involving the Chinese, and Egypt’s follow-up. The issues delayed this F-16 sale, but did not stop it:

“PDAS [Tom] Countryman emphasized the importance of a clear and transparent picture of Egypt’s end-use performance, including the measures being taken to prevent further violations. He noted that Egypt had more potential Section 3 violations than any other country in the world over the last several years. Cases involving the Chinese, he continued, were of particular concern (ref A)… The case involving the visit of a Chinese military official to an F-16 base (ref D), however, did raise genuine concerns about the transfer of US technology. He noted that U.S. concerns over the visit had already delayed Egypt’s request to purchase F-16 aircraft. PDAS Countryman stressed the importance of receiving a consistent story of what happened during the Chinese official’s visit

PDAS Countryman… suggested [that Egypt’s] MOD agree in writing to the following actions: 1) Conduct an internal analysis of the eight potential violations to be shared with the OMC, 2) Commit to an end-use training plan, and 3) Identify one senior official as a point of contact for end-use issues… 11. (C) Subsequent to the meeting, [Egyptian Assistant Minister of Defense Mohammed] al-Assar reviewed the proposed text, but declined to sign the document… He declined to conduct an internal analysis on the end-use violations.”

Security issue

March 31/09: In a “scenesetter” cable to Gen. Schwartz, the US embassy in Cairo lays out key issues and opportunities within the American-Egyptian strategic partnership. This excerpt has to do with the F-16s:

“Both [Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sami] Anan and [Air Marshal] Reda will express concern over releasability issues and frustration with Egypt’s inability to procure restricted weapons systems. Some systems are not releasable because of Egyptian refusal to sign the necessary agreement (CISMOA) providing end-use assurances and ensuring proper protection of certain U.S. origin technology. Releasability is of special concern to the EAF as they prepare to purchase 24 F-16 aircraft that will require a costly retrofit with less-advanced weapons systems. Since 2006, the Department of State has notified Congress of six potential end-use violations by the Egyptian military. We are currently investigating two additional cases, one involving the visit of a Chinese military official to an F-16 facility on an Egyptian Air Force base. Other systems are either not releasable to any country or denied for political reasons, mainly due to concerns regarding Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). We should stress that decisions to release advanced weapons system are made on a country-by-country basis, but signing a CISMOA and expanding cooperation on current regional threats would be welcomed steps to our dialogue on releasability.”

Additional Readings

* F-16.NET – Egypt

* Gadaliyya – Egypt Elections Watch

* Wikipedia – Egyptian Parliamentary Election, 2011-2012. A Presidential election followed.

* Wikipedia – 2012–13 Egyptian protests

* Wikipedia – Political violence in Egypt (July 2013–present)

* The American Interest, Via Meadia (July 11/13) – Egypt’s Deep State Dilemma. The crux of Egypt’s problem, well-explained.

* New English Review (November 2012) – No Blinders about Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood: An Interview with Raymond Stock

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