Thursday, December 13, 2012

Obama defies congressional leaders, OKs delivery of F-16s to Egypt


WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has
approved the delivery of advanced F-16 multi-role fighters and main battle
tanks to Egypt.
Congressional sources said Obama has ordered the Defense Department to
deliver advanced combat platforms to Egypt in 2013. They said the White
House cited what was termed “extenuating circumstances” for the
multi-billion-dollar project.
The U.S. is set to begin delivery of 20 F-16 Block 52+ fighters to Egypt next month.
Obama’s plan to arm Egypt has dismayed House and Senate leaders. The
sources said the congressional leaders relayed concern to the administration
over sending major combat platforms to Egypt amid rising unrest as well as
Morsi’s grab for power.
“We’re giving good money after bad,” House Foreign Affairs Committee
chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said. “We have seen nothing but bad
moves by the Egyptian authorities.”
“This is a message meant to bolster [Egyptian Presidend Mohammed]
Morsi,” a congressional source said.
The sources said Congress has not been formally notified of the U.S.
arms transfer to Egypt. But they said the Pentagon was preparing to deliver at least 20 F-16 Block 52+ fighters and 200 M1A1s, starting from January 2013.
The U.S. media outlet FoxNews reported that the project would begin with the delivery of four F-16s to Egypt by February 2013. The report said the aircraft were undergoing flight tests by prime contractor Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. An Egyptian diplomat in Washington has confirmed the report.
“The U.S.-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of
our broader strategic partnership for over 30 years,” Pentagon spokesman Wesley Miller said. “The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s
modernization efforts. Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our
militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to
regional mission sets.”Special to WorldTribune.com

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