The United States has approved the possible sale of a dozen Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft worth $2.2 billion to Egypt, along with air defence radars worth $355 million.
The US State Department said it had approved the possible foreign military sales on 25 January, with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notifying Congress that same day.
In addition to the 12 stretched C-130J-30 aircraft, Egypt also requested 12 spare Rolls Royce AE-2100D turboprop engines; 30 Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) with GPS Security Devices; and seven Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Low Volume Terminal Block Upgrade Two (MIDS-LVT BU2) Link 16 datalink terminals.
Also included are AN/APX-119 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponders; AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (MWS); AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System (CMDS); AN/ALR-56M Radar Warning Receivers (RWRs); AN/AAQ-22 (STAR SAFIRE 380) electro-optical/infrared imaging systems; secure communications, cryptographic equipment, and GPS-aided precision navigation equipment.
“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 DSCA said. “This airlift capability would assist with border security, the interdiction of known terrorist elements, rapid reaction to internal security threats, and humanitarian aid. Egypt also intends to utilize these aircraft for maritime patrol missions and search and rescue missions in the region.”
Lockheed Martin recently displayed a model of the C-130J in Egyptian markings at the EDEX show in Cairo and has been pursuing the Egyptian market for several years.
The Egyptian Air Force is a legacy C-130 operator, and has 22 C-130H and three C-130H-30 Hercules in its fleet. In 2017, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was contracted to supply an electronic intelligence (ELINT) capability for some of thse aircraft.
Over the last decade, Egypt has been gradually enhancing its airlift fleet, for instance receiving two second hand Ilyushin Il-76MF transport aircraft from Jordan in mid-2019. Some years ago, there was speculation that Egypt was interested in acquiring Airbus A400Ms, but nothing seems to have come of this.
Other transports in Egyptian Air Force service include several An-74TK-200As, two dozen C-295Ms, several DHC-5D Buffalos and a number of Boeing 707 tanker/transports.
The proposed C-130J-30 sale to Egypt comes days after Algeria received its first Super Hercules from the United States, after ordering four (with four options) in 2018. The aircraft touched down on 23 January. The only other Super Hercules operator in Africa is Tunisia, with two aircraft received in 2013 and 2014. Twenty other nations around the world operate the type, while Germany, Indonesia, and New Zealand will also receive Super Hercules in the near future.
Also on 25 January, the US State Department approved the possible foreign military sale of three SPS-48 Land Based Radars (LBRs) manufactured by L3 Harris Surveillance Systems. The proposed sale is worth $355 million and covers spares, installation, training etc.
“The proposed sale will improve Egypt’s capability to meet current and future threats by improving the detection of various air threats. Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces since Egypt already operates previously procured SPS-48 Land Based Radars,” the DSCA said.
According to its manufacturer, the SPS-48 air surveillance radar detects and tracks airborne targets, queues weapons systems, and provides hazardous weather detection and display. Transmitter power, beam spacing in both elevation and azimuth, pulse rates, and instrumented range are all configurable so that system capability can be modified to meet changing mission requirements, L3 said. The radar has a range of about 450 km.
The proposed sales of aircraft and radars came hours after congressional Democrats urged President Joe Biden’s administration not to release $130 million in foreign military financing that was frozen in September 2021 over concerns about Egypt’s human rights record. According to the Washington Post, the US had asked Egypt to release a number of detained people, and halt an investigation of human rights defenders and civil society groups. Egypt has since released several high-profile political prisoners, but Democratic members of Congress believe more still needs to be done as tens of thousands of political prisoners remain in Egyptian prisons.
Egypt will be getting $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States this year.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi denies there are political prisoners in Egypt and says stability and security are paramount and authorities are promoting rights by trying to provide basic needs such as jobs and housing.
Ties between the United States and Egypt improved after Egypt’s mediation to help end hostilities in April 2021 between Israel and Hamas militants.