U.S. Senate Shoots Down Bid to Halt Sales of F-16s, Tanks to Egypt
The U.S. Senate on Thursday defeated an amendment that aimed to prevent the Obama administration from transferring F-16 fighter jets and Abrams tanks to Egypt, CNSNews.com reports. A vote to block the measure proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) -- an amendment to the debt limit bill -- passed by a 79-19 vote. In a strongly worded floor statement, Paul questioned the wisdom of providing the advanced weaponry at a time when "many see Egypt descending into chaos." He based his argument on the Egyptian government's conduct, President Mohammed Morsi's radical Islamist views, and the possibility that the weapons could be used in a future conflict against Israel. "I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that Jews were 'bloodsuckers' and 'descendants of apes and pigs.' This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality that we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to." Egypt has received a total of 240 F-16s since a first order in 1980, the year after the Egypt-Israel peace agreement was signed. The 20 F-16s referred to by Paul were pledged in December 2009, when President Hosni Mubarak was still in power. Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to build 16 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds, and the first four planes were delivered last week. In November 2011, General Dynamics Land Systems announced it had won a $395 million contract to produce 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits for Egypt, with deliveries due to begin in July 2013.