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U.S. Intention to Sell Egypt Planes Draws Mixed Reaction

The Carter Administration’s notice yesterday to Congress that it intends to sell Egypt 14 more C-130 transport planes and 12 reconnaissance planes known as Firebee Drones in a $250 million deal drew mixed reaction from Capital sources today. The House and Senate have 30 days to reject the sales.

Sources close to the House International Relations Committee indicated they will not oppose the sale strongly to avoid embarrassing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who is seen as requiring U.S. military support in view of his difficulties with the Soviet Union on military supplies.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee sources, however, indicated that the panel will insist on a hearing to obtain information on Egypt’s need for the equipment and also use the opportunity for questioning on reports of secret military deals involving the British government.

ARRANGEMENT WITH U.S., BRITISH FIRMS

These deals, it was said, include a reported arrangement for two American companies, identified as General Electric and Lockheed, and British suppliers, to provide Egypt with engines and fire control apparatus, such as radar and gun sights, to refit Egypt’s fleet of Soviet planes, notably MIG 21s.

A Senate source said evidence has been procured that an advanced MIG 23 fighter in Egyptian hands is now equipped with a head up display (HUD) apparatus that enables the pilot to see ground situations on his windshield. This apparatus is highly classified and can be obtained only by license. The question is, the source said, how did it get on a MIG 23?

The U.S. sold Egypt six C-130 planes in 1975 but only two have been delivered. Four are still being built. The C-130s are said to be destined to replace Egypt’s fleet of Soviet Antonov 12 aircraft which the Soviets describe as “assault transports” to support airborne operation. The C-130 and the Antonov are said to be similar in capabilities. Both are turbo-prop planes.

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