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Egypt’s useless combat platforms ‘are just sitting in warehouses’

Special to WorldTribune.com

LONDON — Egypt’s military has been struggling to absorb U.S.-origin combat platforms.

Industry sources said the Egyptian Army was unable to deploy many of the combat platforms supplied by the United States. They cited the M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, the focus of a co-production program with General Dynamics.

Production of an Abrams tank in Lima, Ohio.  /AP

Production of an Abrams tank in Lima, Ohio. /AP

“There are tanks that are just sitting in warehouses in Egypt right now,” Jason Brownlee, a researcher at the University of Texas, said.

Egypt has co-produced up to 1,050 Abrams at the Egyptian Tank Factory. The sources said Egypt has achieved a co-production level of 70 percent, but was unable to devote sufficient resources to training and logistics.

“Overall, there’s not a compelling argument for providing a lot more traditional hardware to the Egyptian military,” Brownlee told the German broadcasting agency Deutsche Welle.

The sources said Egypt has also been struggling to maintain the F-16 multi-role fighter-jet of the Air Force. They said many of the more than 200 F-16s were hardly flying amid budget difficulties and a shortage of trained pilots.

On Oct. 9, the administration of President Barack Obama announced cuts in U.S. military aid programs to Egypt. Since 1980, Egypt has been receiving $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, about a third allocated for logistics.

“The administration is trying to have it both ways, by suspending some
aid but continuing other aid,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the
Senate Foreign Operations subcommittee, said. “By doing that, the message is
muddled.”

So far, the administration has withheld delivery of four F-16 Block 50
aircraft, scheduled to have been sent to Egypt in August 2013. Officials
said the Defense Department would also block deliveries of Abrams MBTs,
AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and Harpoon missiles.

“We are now in a delicate state reflecting the turmoil in the
relationship, and anyone who says otherwise is not speaking honestly,”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told the official Al Ahram newspaper
on Oct. 16.

Analyst Stephen Glain said a key question was whether Washington would
withhold maintenance and spare parts to the Egyptian military. But Glain
said Egypt’s defense industry could compensate for some of the shortfall in
U.S. services.

“I’m sure they can maintain a minimum amount of readiness without help
from the United States,” Glain told the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat daily.
“I’d be more concerned about spare parts.”

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