Commander of US military forces in the Middle East, General Frank McKenzie stated during a Senate session in Washington DC on March 15 that the Joe Biden administration should soon approve the sale of F-15 Eagle fighter jets to Egypt.
“I think we have good news in that we’re going to provide them with F-15s, which was a long, hard slog,” McKenzie told the senators. The potential agreement will give the air force access to a large fighter jet to replace the agreement for the acquisition of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jets, which under US pressure has been stalled since last year.
The US press, however, argues that the sale of F-15 fighter jets to Egypt could create disagreements on Capitol Hill over continuing arms shipments to Cairo. The country in North Africa is accused by the international community of human rights violations.
General McKenzie did not provide further details about the possible deal, such as how many aircraft or which version of the jet would be supplied to the Egyptians. “As a matter of policy, the Department does not comment on or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Wide range of fighters
McKenzie’s announcement comes just days after the Senate discussed a $2.2 billion sale of 12 C-130J Super Hercules airlifters to Egypt. Recently, the Senate rejected a request by Republican Senator Rand Paul to block the aircraft trading. Supporters of the deal have contested the lawsuit, claiming that selling cargo planes is not the same as selling weapons.
Despite the tensions, Egypt remains an important US ally in the Middle East region and provides support to the US military, including passage of military vessels through the Suez Canal and access to its airspace. The armed forces of the two countries also regularly carry out military exercises.
If indeed confirmed, the sale of the F-15s to Egypt would be a remarkable step forward for the country’s air force, which operates a wide range of fighter jets supplied by different countries. The Egyptian fleet has Lockheed Martin F-16, Dassault Rafale and Mirage 2000 and RAC MiG-29 fighters at its disposal.