In the modern era, Egypt was a Soviet client for a long time, and its arsenals still contain their share of Soviet weaponry. Military assistance relations took a sharp turn for the worse in the early 1970s, and the country has used the US military aid program that accompanied the 1979 Camp David Accords to replace much of that equipment with American items.
One of the most prominent replacements has occurred in Egypt’s fleet of main battle tanks. Some T-55 tanks survive as greatly-upgraded “Ramses II” machines, and a handful of T-80s were bought in the late 1990s, but American M60A3 Patton and M1 Abrams tanks now make up the vast majority of Egypt’s fleet. The country began a co-production program for M1 Abrams tanks in 1988, which involves kit assembly in Egypt but outsources sensitive functions like adding the M1’s special armor. By 2007, this program had produced 880 tanks, a total that will rise to 1,130 M1 tanks as the latest contracts are fulfilled. This gives Egypt one of the globe’s largest M1 fleets.
Contracts & Key Events
November 3/15: The US and Egypt are preparing to resume co-production of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, following a hiatus in deliveries as a result of the country’s 2013 coup. The production of Abrams at the Egyptian Tank Plant near Cairo will partially fulfil orders from a 2011 contract for 125 M1A1s, with the country already possessing over a thousand of the tanks. Under the terms of a new contract, General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver kits for the Egyptian plant to assemble, as well as weapon and propulsion systems. Relations between Washington and Cairo are becoming increasingly close, following President Obama’s decision in March to resume military aid to the country, including the tank kits, despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses. The Egyptian Air Force recently received the last four of twelve F-16s from the US.
Dec 3/12: General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI receives a $37.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for services in support of the M1A1 co-production effort at the Egyptian Tank Plant in Cairo, Egypt. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights and Cairo, with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-09-C-0488).
Nov 22/12: Pharaoh? Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, 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. Morsi’s response is to call a Dec 15/12 referendum on the new constitution, amid large, organized counter-protests by his supporters. AP | France24 | Russia Today | Turkish Weekly | UAE’s The National | UK’s Sky News.
Aug 13/12: General Disapproval. Newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, 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 Morsi also issued a decree nullfying that move. So, the showdown begins. Daily Mail | NY Times | LA Times.
Jan 5/12: General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI receives an $11.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, to continue providing manufacturing and technical assistance to Egypt. Work will be performed in Cairo, Egypt, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI, as Egypt’s agent (W56HZV-09-C-0488).
Dec 30/11: General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, St. Petersburg, FL receives a $43.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for 120mm insensitive munitions high explosive tracer cartridges to the Arab Republic of Egypt. These will be used by its M1A1 tanks.
Work will be performed in several cities across the United States, as well as Norway and Canada, with an estimated completion date of July 30/15. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-12-C-0002).
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.
Nov 17/11: General Dynamics Land Systems announces a $395 million contract from US Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command, to produce 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits. This will be the 11th increment of the Egyptian co-production program. Note that a number of elements in the $1+ billion DSCA request do not appear to be covered here. Items like the tank’s weapons and engines are made by other firms, and support contracts are not mentioned.
Work on the kit components will be performed in Anniston, AL; Tallahassee, FL; Sterling Heights, MI; Lima, OH; and Scranton, PA. Deliveries will begin in July 2013 and continue to January 2016, with the kits shipped to a final assembly facility near Cairo, Egypt. This latest increment will increase the number of Egyptian co-production-built tanks to 1,130.
July 5/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Egypt’s official request for another 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits for co-production as the co-production program’s 11th increment. The ready for assembly kits will be accompanied by 125 M256 Armament Systems (120mm gun and associated sights and equipment), 125 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 250 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 125 AGT-1500 M1A1 series tank engines and transmissions, 120mm test cartridges, spare and repair parts, maintenance, support equipment, special tool and test equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical documentation, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.
The estimated cost is up to $1.329 billion, but exact numbers will depend on the final contract. The prime contractors will be General Dynamics in Sterling Heights, MI (M1 tank), Honeywell International Incorporated in Phoenix, AZ (engine), and Allison Transmission Motors in Indianapolis, IN. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, though it is already a co-production agreement. Implementation will require the assignment of approximately 4 U.S. government and 35 contractor representatives to Egypt for up to 3 years, to manage this production and fielding program.
The drift of Egypt’s military government has caused concern in some quarters re: “Pakistanization”, but the DSCA still describes Egypt as “a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” and says that “this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
July 16/09: General Dynamics Land System Customer Service & Support in Sterling Heights, MI receives a $45.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract manufacturing technical assistance for Egyptian co-production Increment 10. The order Includes equipment technology list items (i.e. tools, gages, fixtures, machines, or facility items) for production of the M1A1 tanks at the Egyptian tank plant. Work is to be performed in Sterling Heights, MI with an estimated completion date of Dec 21/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by TACOM in Warren, MI (W56HZV-09-C-0488).
Jan 30/08: General Dynamics announces that the U.S. TACOM Lifecycle Management Command has awarded GDLS a $349 million contract for the Egyptian tank co-production program. The firm will produce parts for 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits, as the 10th increment of the Egyptian co-production program. The parts are shipped to a production facility near Cairo, Egypt. Work on the components will be performed in Anniston, AL; Tallahassee, FF; Sterling Heights, MI; Lima, OH; and Scranton, PA. Deliveries will begin in April 2009 and continue through July 2011.
This is far less the $889 million mentioned by the DSCA. A GDLS representative clarified somewhat, adding that “the actual firm-fixed-price value of the contract will be negotiated in the second quarter.”
Each kit includes a Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer, Firepower Enhancement Package (substitution of the 120mm smoothbore gun for the original 105mm gun) and armor upgrades. Additional Major Defense Equipment (MDE) include 125 M256 Armament Systems (Rheinmetall 120mm guns), 125 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 250 M204 7.62mm machine guns, and non-MDE for spare and repair parts, special tool and test equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $889 million [as corrected on Sept 18/07], and the prime contractor will be General Dynamics of Sterling Heights, MI.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of up to 40 U.S. contractor representatives for up to 2 years in Egypt. The 6 U.S. Government representatives already in country who currently manage the M1A1 Abrams and M88A2 HERCULES tank recovery vehicle co-production programs will also manage this program for production and fielding, which is expected to end in 2011.