Despite the current situation in Egypt, the United States has delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of an aid package that will include more jets and 200 Abrams tanks to be delivered to Egypt this year. They are part of the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt, as per the terms of the 1976 Camp David Accords with Israel.
The package was agreed to and signed in 2010, with then-President Hosni Mubarak, and states that F-16s and associated parts, weapons and equipment to modernize its air force are to be given to the Egyptian Army before the end of the year, Israeli media said.
The Egyptian Air Force is the fourth-largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 224 such aircraft, according to American and Egyptian military sources.
On Sunday, at a ceremony in honor of the F-16s received from the US, the Egyptian defense minister, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, said he appreciated the growing military cooperation between Egypt and the US. Sissi stressed that the military leadership in Egypt seeks to enhance and maintain a strategic partnership and cooperation with US.
Meanwhile, Heidi Grant, deputy undersecretary of the US Air Force for international affairs, said delivering these fighter planes confirms the US's keenness to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries to achieve security and stability in the Middle East. She also praised the professionalism of the Egyptian armed forces, the Egypt Independent newspaper reported.
It is worth mentioning that, according to Defense Industry Daily, the Egyptian Air Force's 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." The upgrades include improved radar, mission computer, displays and navigation system.
Arab military observers are wondering why America refuses, until now, to sell F-15s to Egypt, knowing that the techniques available in the F-15 are much better than the F-16. Furthermore, the F-16s delivered to Egypt significantly differs from the F-16s manufactured for Israel. Therefore, Israel remains the superior among all the countries of the Middle East with its air force, because they have F-15s and F-16s. (Certainly it will get the F35, too.) Besides, Israeli places are capable of launching missiles with a nuclear warhead. None of the Arab countries own such missiles or have this capability in their warplanes, not even Saudi Arabia, which held a deal worth $60-90 billion last year for the supply of US weapons and equipment.
Egyptian military sources said that the military leadership, after the fall of Mubarak, should focus on improving its relations with Russia and China so as to obtain weapons, in particular warplanes, because many are convinced that the Egyptian Air Force, in its current state, is less efficient than Israeli Air Force.