August 26, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Egypt has accepted delivery of new U.S. F-16 warplanes ordered in 1999. The first four of 24 F-16s arrived at Gianaklis Air Base on Sunday. The F-16 order marks the sixth Egyptian program for the advanced U.S. warplane.
The latest order will result in an Egyptian air force fleet with more than 215 F-16 jets, the fourth largest F-16 fleet in the world. The F-16, first delivered to Egypt
in 1982, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
Egyptian military commanders said the F-16 fleet is the backbone of the nation's air force modernization program. They said the U.S. warplanes constitute what they termed a key element in Egypt's military deterrence.
So far, 10 F-16 jets have been produced for the latest Egyptian order in a program called Peace Vector VI. The first four jets were ferried to Egypt in June and underwent inspections before final delivery.
Officials said four additional F-16s will be delivered to Egypt over the next few weeks. The remaining 16 aircraft will be handed over this year and in early 2002 under what they termed was an accelerated delivery schedule.
Egypt's neighbor, Israel
, has nearly 250 F-16s and has ordered or plans to order more than 100 additional jets.