The deal to sell 12 Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transports to Egypt is going ahead, after the US Senate last week voted in support of the sale in spite of human rights concerns.
The Senate voted 81 for and 18 against the $2.2 billion deal on 10 March, Reuters reported, after Republican Senator Rand Paul and some progressive democrats attempted to halt the sale.
The US State Department said it had approved the possible foreign military sales of the C-130Js as well as air defence radars worth $355 million on 25 January, with the Defence 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.
“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,” the DSCA said in January.
Shortly after the proposed aircraft and radar sales were announced, President Joe Biden’s administration said it would deny $130 million of military aid, or 10% of the total allocated to Egypt, if the country did not address human rights concerns.
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.
Last week, Paul told the Senate that the United States should end military sales to Egypt. “Partially taking away some military aid while offering new sales that are 10 times what we’ve withheld shows weakness in the face of oppression,” he said.
The United States may still withhold $235 million of military aid to Egypt.
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 these 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.