US halts delivery of F-16 jets to Egypt

US halts delivery of F-16 jets to Egypt
Thu Jul 25, 2013 13:29:30

US President Barack Obama has halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter planes to the Egyptian Air Force.

The US administration said that it wanted to send Egypt’s military-led government a signal of American displeasure with the chaotic situation there, which has been marked by continued violence, the detention of deposed President Morsi.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel relayed the decision to Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the head of Egypt’s military, a senior official said, and did not say when the Pentagon might reschedule the delivery.

“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” the Pentagon press secretary, George Little said.

He did not cite any specific actions by the Egyptian military.

The White House emphasized that the decision did not have implications for $1.5 billion in American aid to Egypt, which it has said it does not want to cut off for now.

The administration is reviewing that aid but has scrupulously avoided referring to Morsi’s ouster as a coup d’état, which could force its suspension on legal grounds.

In the immediate aftermath of Morsi’s ouster, the administration said it did not plan to halt the F-16 shipment. But officials said they were disturbed by how events have unfolded since then.

Holding up planes is a modest, but unmistakable, symbol of that concern — “an inside fastball to the military,” in the words of a Pentagon official.

The warplanes are part of a deal the United States and Egypt reached in 2009 for the delivery of 20 F-16 C/D fighters during 2013.

The first batch of aircraft was delivered in January, with more scheduled for this summer and another delivery late this year.


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