According to media reports, Egypt’s interim government, installed by the army in July 2013, is negotiating a $2 billion arms package with Russia. Some sources say the deal may have already been signed during the visit this week to Moscow by the head of the Egyptian army, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. It is understood that the deal is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Cairo appears to have turned to Russia following the souring of relations with Washington after the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi last summer. In spite of the political background, an Egyptian spokesman insisted that the purpose of the Moscow visit was to “diversify our partners.”
There has been no official word on what the Russian arms package includes, but reports from last November suggest that combat helicopters, anti-tank weapons and air defense systems such as the Pantsir S1 could be included. The headline act, however, is the Mikoyan MiG-29M2 fighter, of which Cairo is understood to want 24.
Following the installation of an interim government in Egypt, Washington suspended deliveries of F-16s, citing ongoing political unrest as the reason. Twenty F-16C/Ds were due to be delivered last year under the Peace Vector VII contract, but only eight had been handed over by the time the order came to suspend deliveries. That order came just two weeks after Washington announced that delivery of the next four would go ahead.
Egypt has received a total of 224 F-16s over the years as one of the principal elements of the U.S. Foreign Military Financing program to the country. The Fighting Falcon forms the backbone of Egypt’s tactical air force. The majority are F-16C/D Block 40 aircraft with General Electric F110 engines, but the partially delivered batch comprises F-16C/D Block 52s with the Pratt & Whitney F100 powerplant.