State Dept. announce new Egypt arms sale, House Dems protest human rights violations

Egypt requested to buy 12 Lockheed Martin-made C-130Js, each installed with four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D turboprop engines, and more.

 US SECRETARY of State Antony Blinken listens as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a US-Egypt strategic dialogue at the State Department earlier this month. (photo credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters)
US SECRETARY of State Antony Blinken listens as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a US-Egypt strategic dialogue at the State Department earlier this month.
(photo credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters)

Washington has approved the possible sale of a dozen C-130J Super Hercules transport planes as well as air defense radar systems to Egypt.

The State Department said that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Tuesday of the possible sale. The deal would see Cairo procure 12 Lockheed-Martin C-130J aircraft and related equipment at a cost of $2.2 billion, as well as three SPS-48 Land-Based Radar and related equipment for $355 million.

Egypt requested to buy 12 C-130Js, each installed with four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D turboprop engines and a dozen spare engines, as well as GPS navigation systems, identification transponders, missile warning systems, countermeasure systems and more.

The transport plane is able to fly over 4,000 kilometers and has cutting-edge technology such as an anti-missile system, which along with the plane’s electronic warfare system, can deploy flares upon detecting a missile, allowing the plane to maneuver away from the threat.

Cairo also wants to purchase three SPS-48 land-based radar systems, spares, motor generators, repeaters, radomes and other equipment, the State Department said.

A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin (credit: AXEL SCHMIDT/REUTERS)A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin (credit: AXEL SCHMIDT/REUTERS)

The sale would “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East,” the State Department said in a release. “The proposed sale will improve Egypt’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing airlift support for its forces by moving supplies, equipment and people, thus strengthening its capacity in the security and humanitarian arena.”

The capabilities provided by the planes would “assist with border security, the interdiction of known terrorist elements, rapid reaction to internal security threats, and humanitarian aid,” the State Department said, adding that they will also be for maritime patrol missions and search and rescue missions in the region.

Since Egypt already has a fleet of legacy C-130s, the proposed sale will not alter the region’s basic military balance.

Earlier this month, Lockheed-Martin was awarded a $102m. contract to upgrade 25 of the Egyptian Air Force’s Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopters with the latest generation sensors. Cairo is reported to have 46 Apaches. The last time Washington approved the sale of 10 new AH-64Es was in 2018.

The announcement comes as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is yet to decide whether to release $130m. worth of military aid to Egypt that had been frozen since September.

On Tuesday, several senior House Democrats, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), chairman of the subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism, sent a letter to Blinken urging the Biden administration “to stand by important human rights criteria, and follow through with its commitment not to release a portion of US assistance if Egypt fails to fully meet requirements outlined by the administration. We write to reaffirm our shared commitment to the important US–Egypt bilateral relationship, and the importance of maintaining a focus on human rights as a critical component of that relationship.

“Specifically, we emphasize our expectation that the Administration will reprogram the portion of military aid withheld last year if Egypt fails to comply with the full set of specific human rights benchmarks communicated by the State Department to the Egyptian government,” the House Democrats wrote.

“As the Biden Administration has rightly acknowledged, the Egyptian government continues to perpetuate pervasive and systemic violations of human rights. Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, remain imprisoned on politically motivated charges, with many of them subject to abuse and mistreatment. While we recognize and reaffirm important steps Egypt has taken in recent weeks to address such concerns by releasing certain political prisoners and individuals unjustly detained, the Egyptian government must meet the administration’s conditions in full by the communicated deadline. If not, we urge you to stand by your word and immediately reprogram withheld funds.”