Military


M1A1 Abrams tanks

US military aid finances most of Egypt's big-ticket defense procurements - $1.3 billion annually for several years. Large projects underway include the M1A1 Abrams tank manufacturing facility and the M88A2 coproduction program.

Egypt obtained US approval in 1984 to build a factory to produce new tanks. Under the initial agreement, the Egyptians would assemble 524 M1A1 tanks, and Egyptian officials hoped that this number would eventually rise to 1,500 tanks. Six production cycles were established initially, with each increment increasing the level of technology from General Dynamics Land Systems. Beginning in mid-1992, Egypt started assembling M1A1 tank components imported from the United States. Egypt manufactured about 40% and imported 60% of the components for the 555 tanks produced. The cost was estimated at $3.2 billion. The Egyptians also will produce the 120-mm cannon as well as an increasing number of parts for the tank. Egyptian officials said the goal was to make Cairo self-sufficient in tank production.

Along with the co-production of 524 MlAl's, is the fielding, New Equipment Training (NET), and follow-on support for the Egyptian Army. This is the mission of the U.S. Army M1A1 Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT). The M1A1 TAFT was originally set up in 1989 to assist the Egyptian Land Forces in preparing for the introduction of the tank into their combatunits. Once fielding began in June 1993, the team was expanded to eleven members to provide hands-on technical assistance.The M1A1 TAFT supported two aspects of the fielding - On the Job Training (OJT) for the tank crews, and hands-on assistance with maintenance of the tank and related equipment. The TAFT is headed by a U.S Army Armor Branch Lieutenant Colonel, with two M1A1 Master Gunners to oversee the crew training portion of the mission. A maintenance team of an Ordnance Corps Major, two Warrant Officers, and four NCO's provide training and advice to the ELF maintenance personnel assigned to the M1A1 units. The support covers all maintenance activitiesfrom Organizational Level to Intermediate General Support, and assisted in the set up of allmaintenance facilities for the tank. Along with the Americans who serve on the TAFT, there were Egyptian Army counterpartTAFT members who had a very significant role in the fielding process. Together, the American and Egyptian counterparts shared in the fielding effort, learning a great deal from each other in the process.

The New Equipment Training (NET) on the Ml Al took five months for each battalion, asubstantially longer time than that required by a U.S. Army battalion. The American unit went to M1A1 NET as an experienced, trained, cohesive team. In contrast, the Egyptian battalion was 75% new soldiers, just out of basic training, with a core of older sergeants and officers. The unit was formed up just prior to NET. Significantly, the Egyptians were using the M1A1 to introduce theconcept of long serving volunteers (five years minimum enlistment time) into an Army that waspreviously all conscripts.The Egyptian NET closely followed the same training plan usedby the U.S. Army, and was in fact developed by Fort Knox to support several Mobile Training Teamsdeployed during 1991 and 1992. The training was standards, not event, oriented. The TAFT Master Gunners, both Egyptian and American, closely monitor the training to ensure that thestandards are maintained. The culmination of the NET is a rigorous month long tank gunnery exercise thatresults in tank crew qualification andacceptance as a member of the newlyformed M1A1 battalion. The U.S.Army's tank gunnery manual, FM17-12-1, was the baseline document thatsets the tasks, conditions, and standards to be achieved. Crews that failed to qualify were sent back to the NET Training Center for additional training. The training is considerablymore demanding than what the ELF Armor Force was used to, but the target hits on the range proved that Egyptian soldiers, even though young and inexperienced, can meet standards

There were great challenges as the Egyptian Army learned to properly operate and maintain the Abrams Tank and its support equipment. The battalions that received the tank had been equipped with the Soviet built T-62, an antiquated tank at best. The Egyptian Army remained largely committed to Soviet imposed tactics and out-moded training methods which did not take advantage of the M1A1's capabilities. Also, the Egyptian Army differed from the American Army in that a soldier was expected to serve as a welder, recovery vehicle operator, track vehicle repairman and machinist at the same time. Further, ELF mechanics were trained to perform all levels of maintenance, organizational through depot. This made it difficult for the ELF to understand and accept U.S. Army maintenance doctrine. However, a great strength of the ELF mechanics continued to be their determination to learn how to maintain the vehicle.

On March 11, 1999, Defense Secretary Cohen announced a $3.2 billion arms sale to Egypt that includes 24 F-16 aircraft, 200 M-1 tanks, and a Patriot missile battery. Under the proposal announced in March 1999, Egypt would assemble another 200 M1 tanks.

In July 1999 the Government of Egypt requested a co-production program for the possible sale of 100 M1A1 Abrams tanks to include 100 M256 Armament Systems, 100 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 200 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 12 M16A2 rifles, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, technical assistance and support, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $564 million. This proposed sale will increase the quantity of the Abrams tank co-production program, started in 1988 with a quantity of 530 tanks, to 630 tanks. Egypt, which already co-produced the M1A1 Abrams tanks, will have no difficulty absorbing the additional tanks. The prime contractor will be General Dynamics, Sterling Heights, Mich. There were no offset agreements proposed to be entered into in connection with this potential sale.

In March 2000 a study on the production of the American tank M1A2 in Egypt was reported to have "entered an important stage" though ongoing negotiations in this respect continued.

On 27 July 2001, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale of equipment and services to support a possible sale of M1A1 Abrams Tanks to the Government of Egypt. The Government of Egypt (GOE) has requested a coproduction program for the possible sale of 100 M1A1 Abrams tanks kits to include 100 M256 Armament Systems, 100 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 200 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 12 M16A2 5.56mm rifles, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, technical assistance and support, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $590 million. The GOE is demilitarizing its Soviet fleet. This proposed sale will increase the quantity of the Abrams tank coproduction program, started in 1988, from the current level of 655 tanks, to 755 tanks. The additional M1A1 tanks will modernize Egypt's tank fleet. Egypt, which has already co-produced the M1A1 Abrams tanks, will have no difficulty absorbing the additional tanks. The prime contractor was General Dynamics of Sterling Heights, Michigan. There are no offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Key U.S. government, contractor, and Egyptian Army personnel celebrated the successful completion of production qualification testing of the third generation Government of Egypt 120mm Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding-Sabot-T KE-WA2 tank round at the Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in July 2003. The KE-WA2, developed by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Division was approved for production in early September, pending approval of a new FMS case. In addition to a full inventory of developmental, training, and production munitions that are managed or supported by the Office of the Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems, OPM MAS has enjoyed an interesting, long-term relationship with the government of Egypt. In 1994 the Egyptian government approached the U.S. government for development and production of a kinetic energy tank munition to support their Abrams fleet. Using tungsten alloy as the anti-armor penetrator, or kill mechanism, the initial cartridge, was called the KE-W W is the periodic table symbol for tungsten. In 1998 a second FMS case was implemented, calling for a more advanced cartridge, the KE-WA1. In both cases GD-OTS (formerly Primex Technologies) was the prime contractor. Additional quantities of KE-WA1 were provided by a subsequent FMS case approved in 2001.






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