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U.S. pushes F-16 project for Egypt despite Muslim Brotherhood purge of military

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States, in wake of the dismissal of Egypt’s
military command, has advanced the F-16 multi-role fighter for the Arab
state.

F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon.

The Defense Department has awarded a major contract to facilitate the
procurement of F-16s by the Egyptian Air Force. The Pentagon selected
American International Contractors for a $66.6 million contract to upgrade
infrastructure for Egypt’s order of 20 F-16 Block 52 aircraft, estimated at
$2.2 billion.

“There were 23 bids solicited, with three bids received,” the Pentagon
said.

The Aug. 14 award was issued a day after the administration of President Barack Obama expressed confidence that Egypt’s new military command would cooperate with the United States. Hours before the F-16 contract was announced, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke to his new Egyptian counterpart, Abdul Fatah Sisi, appointed by President Mohammed Morsi.

“El Sisi has stressed that he takes seriously Egypt’s obligations under
the Camp David treaty, and he’s committed to preventing the Sinai from becoming a staging area for militants,” Panetta told a news conference. “I indicated that I look forward to working closely with him to advance our shared goals in the region.”

Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid, with
$1.3 billion a year. Over the last two years, Congress has repeatedly
threatened to cut off military aid to Egypt amid findings that the military
regime was violating human and civil rights and failing to maintain security
cooperation with Israel.

The Pentagon said AIC, based in Arlington, Va. and responsible for much
of the U.S. military construction in the Middle East, would design and
construct upgrades to house the next batch of F-16s for Cairo. The
statement, in what indicated an F-16 delivery timetable, said the Egyptian
facilities, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would be ready
within two years.

“Work will be performed in Egypt, with an estimated completion date of
Aug. 8, 2014,” the Pentagon said.

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