The Egyptian government has formally accepted delivery of 24 new F-16 fighter jets in the USA. The combat aircraft, of the advanced C and D “Block 40” types, join nearly 200 F-16s already in operation with the Egyptian Air Force. The acceptance of delivery is a formality, and actual delivery of the aircraft from the USA to Egypt is expected to take place around June 2002. Payment for the fighters, valued at $1.2 Billion, will be made entirely from U.S. military aid funds.
The 24 F-16 fighters were ordered in June 1999, as part of a massive weapons deal titled “Peace Vector VI”. After overcoming fierce pro-Israel opposition in the American congress, Egypt placed an order for $3.2 billion worth of advanced American weapons, including the combat aircraft, 200 M-1A1 tanks and 32 Patriot missiles.
Produced by the American firm Lockheed-Martin, the F-16 is the world’s most popular, most sought-after multirole fighter. Featuring advanced avionics, good maneuverability, and the capacity to carry heavy loads over long distances, the aircraft can operate in both the air-combat and ground attack roles.
The Egyptian Air Force was the first Arab operator of the F-16, ordering its first 42 aircraft of the type in June 1980. Since then, Egypt has amassed a fleet of 220 F-16 fighters. Other Arab countries that operate the type include Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
The F-16 has a proven combat record, and has seen action in the hands of U.S. forces in operations in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Another users of the type is Israel, which used F-16 fighters to attack and destroy Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.
The entry of the new Egyptian F-16s into service will mark another important step in the ongoing modernization of the country’s air fleet and its transition to the most modern Western aircraft. (www.albawaba.com )