Egypt getting ready to purchase M1A1 tanks

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Egypt may soon purchase an additional 125 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks in kit form as part of a US$1.3 billion foreign military sale, growing its M1 fleet to above the thousand mark.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that on the first of the month it had notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Egypt for 125 M1A1 tank kits as well as associated weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support valued at around US$1.329 billion.

The package would include 125 M256 Armament Systems (comprising the 120 mm gun and associated systems), 125 M2 .50 calibre machine guns, 250 M240 7.62 mm machine guns, 125 AGT-1500 M1A1 series tank engines and transmissions, 120 mm test cartridges, spares, manuals and support equipment.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the DSCA said in a statement.

Egypt has a large tank force and operates one of the world’s largest M1 fleets. According to the IISS’s 2010 The Military Balance, Egypt has more than 3 700 main battle tanks, including 973 M1A1s, 850 M60A3s, 300 M60A1s and 260 Ramses II (upgraded T-54/55s). In addition, the Egyptian Army has a further 500 T-62s and 840 T-54/55s in storage.

Co-production of the M1 began in 1988 when Egypt set up Tank Assembly Plant 200 in Helwan. Co-production involves kit assembly in Egypt and the production of sensitive items such as armour in the United States.

The prime contractors for the contract will be General Dynamics, Honeywell International Incorporated and Allison Transmission Motors. Around 60% of Egypt’s Abrams have been produced in the United States and the rest inside the north African nation.

It is not clear how Egypt will pay for the 125 new tanks – in the past it has used some of its Foreign Military Assistance money from the United States to do so. Egypt has received over US$36 billion in US military aid since in 1979 when it made peace with Israel, and currently receives US$1.3 billion each year.