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US lifts block on delivery of F-16s to Egypt

April 2, 2015 (by Lieven Dewitte) - U.S. President Barack Obama has given a go-ahead for the delivery of a F-16 aircraft to Egypt. In June 2013 Obama had halted the delivery of four block 52 F-16s to Egypt as the U.S. grew impatient with Egypt's armed forces after its toppling of President Mohamed Mursi.

The second batch of four EAF F-16s - with F-16C block 52 #9752 in front - are being delivered, spotted here at Lajes AFB on April 13th, 2013. [ photo by João Toste]

On December 24th, 2009 the US signed a contract with Egypt for the delivery of 20 new F-16s under the known Peace Vector series. The $213 million order has been paid for by US taxpayers. The first batch of 4 aircraft was delivered in January 2013.

The United States will now move forward with the delivery of at least 4 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. It is unclear if the additional eight F-16s that were due to be delivered in December 2013 will also be sent over already.

The White House said Obama told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by phone on Tuesday that the 2013 freeze would be lifted.

The move comes as Egypt plays a key role in the Arab offensive against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and engages in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Libya.

Aside from the F-16 jet fighters, Obama also agreed to deliver 20 Harpoon missiles and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits.

The shipments had been blocked after Sisi’s military allies forcibly ousted elected president Mohammad Morsi in July 2013. The new Egyptian authorities insist they acted to maintain order amid mass protests against a government that had lost popular support.

Rights groups accuse Sisi of installing a regime more repressive than the one of former longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak who was toppled in early 2011 after an 18-day uprising, leading to years of unrest.

Additional images:

EAF F-16D block 52 #9824 is coming in for landing at Lajes AFB on January 22nd, 2013. [ photo by Paulo Santos]

EAF F-16C block 52 #9757 is coming in for landing with brakes opened after its first flight from NAS Fort Worth on April 11th, 2013. [Photo by Pike]

EAF F-16C block 52 #9758 is coming in for landing at NAS Fort Worth on May 7th, 2013 after a check flight. [Photo by Kevin Perry]
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