WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 – Australia has agreed to purchase F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft, and the Defense Department will deliver Apache helicopters to Egypt, a Pentagon spokesman announced today.
“Our partners in Australia announced that they decided to buy 58 F-35 aircraft,” Army Col. Steven Warren said. “The first two F-35s for Australia are already in production and are on track for delivery later this year. Today’s announcement for additional aircraft will help fulfill their country’s national security needs, strengthen our long-standing relationship and solidify the strategic role F-35s will have in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Warren noted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke yesterday with his Egyptian counterpart, Defense Minister Col. Gen. Sedki Sobhy, to inform him of the delivery of 10 Apache helicopters to support Egypt’s counterterrorism operations.
“I think what’s important here is to note that we believe these
Apache helicopters are very useful and powerful tools for the Egyptians to fight terrorism particularly in the Sinai,” Warren said. “The purpose behind this is we have identified a very significant, mutual national security interest.
It is in America’s national security interests, he added, for Egypt to continue battling terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.
Warren said that due to uncertainty over Egypt’s democratic transition, other equipment and supplies are being withheld for now. For example, F-16 fighter jets, M-1 tanks and Harpoon missiles have not been released, he said.
The Pentagon spokesman noted that DOD officials took a “holistic look” at its entire program with Egypt.
“Now that we’ve completed this look and we know that Egypt has been continuing the fight against terrorism in the Sinai, we believe that they need this additional equipment to continue that fight,” Warren said. “We continue to have very close dialogue with Egypt focused on counterterrorism.”