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Friday, February 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: Egypt maintains larger air combat fleet 'than it can properly support'

WASHINGTON — The Egyptian Air Force has been unable to support its large combat fleet, a report said.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies asserted that Egypt has failed to maintain its huge F-16 multi-role fighter fleet supplied by the United States. In a report by former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman, the center said the Air Force has been hampered by crashes of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Egypt maintains much larger numbers of combat aircraft than it can properly support — in effect, disarming by over-arming," the report, titled "The Egyptian Military and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance," said. "As is the case with the Egyptian Army, Egypt maintains a substantial pool of low-grade and obsolete weapons platforms that do not serve any apparent military purpose."

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The Egyptian Air Force has more than 200 F-16s, first procured in the early 1980s. The air force has been awaiting delivery of 20 F-16 Block 52+ fighters from Lockheed Martin.

"Furthermore, while Egypt continues to acquire growing numbers of F-16s, the Air Force has suffered from a steady number of crashed aircraft and poor systems integration," the report, released earlier this month, said.

Egypt receives $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid. The administration of President Barack Obama has pledged to continue to fund the Egyptian military in wake of the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The report said Egypt has also accumulated a large air defense network. Egypt was also said to have installed chemical warheads for its Scud missile fleet.

"Egypt has an unknown number of Scud-Bs, and at least 9-12 mobile TEL launchers," the report said. "There are a number of reports that it has operational Scud-Cs that it produced using technology it obtained from North Korea. Reports indicate that the CIA detected Egyptian imports of Scud-C production technology in 1996."

The report said Egypt's military has been hampered by continued reliance on conscription and the militarization of social welfare. Cordesman determined that Egypt, with a $3.4 billion defense budget, has become more dependent on U.S. aid than any other country in the Middle East.

"It is unlikely that this trend will change, making U.S. assistance all that more essential to Egypt's long term plans for military procurement," the report said.

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