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Army Equipment - Introduction

Even though the Egyptian military became oriented toward the West after the October 1973 War, it still had large amounts of Soviet equipment in its arms inventory. In the 1970s, the Egyptian armored corps was comprised almost exclusively of Soviet tanks, the best of which was the T-62. In the 1980s, the stock of main battle tanks consisted of 785 M60A3s from the United States, together with more than 1,600 Soviet-made T-54, T-55, and T-62 models. Some of these older Soviet tanks were being refitted in the West with 105mm guns, diesel engines, fire-control systems, and external armor. Armored personnel carriers (APCs) consisted of 1,000 M-113A2s from the United States, more than 1,000 BTR-50s and OT-62s from the Soviet Union, and about 200 Fahds, which were manufactured in Egypt based on a design from the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The army also had more than 700 infantry combat vehicles that were manufactured by the Soviet Union and Spain. Egypt also launched a program to increase the mobility of artillery and rockets by mounting them on the chassis of tanks and APCs.

By the late 1990s the mechanized divisions consisted of 4,500 armored personnel carriers, the core of which was 2,000 US M113's. In the late 1990s Egypt took delivery of 611 Dutch YPR-765 armored infantry fighting vehicles to replace its BMPs. By the late 1990s, Egypt's armored corps was comprised of the most modern US tanks. Cairo acquired 850 M60A3s, and formed two armored divisions. After the Gulf War, under the 'Factory 200' program Egypt began to assemble the US-made M1A1, widely regarded as one of the finest tanks in the world. By the late 1990s Egypt had 1,700 M60's (1,100 M60A3's), and approximately 200 M1A1's in addition to approximately 1,600 Soviet tanks. At that time Egypt planned to upgrade all M60A1 tanks to the A3 standard. Additionally, Egypt expanded domestic production of military armaments.

The M1A1 'Factory 200' program was a major milestone in Egyptian efforts to achieve limited military self-sufficiency. Egypt obtained US approval in 1984 to build a giant factory to produce new tanks. Under the agreement, the Egyptians will assemble 524 M1A1 tanks and officials hope that will eventually rise to 1,500 tanks. Six production cycles were established with each increment increasing the level of technology from General Dynamics Land Systems. The cost was estimated at $3.2 billion. The Egyptians produced 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. Egypt substantially improved its anti-tank capability with the acquisition of 500 TOW-2 missiles and its intention to buy 540 TOW launchers. The army possessed a variety of antitank rockets and missiles, including older Soviet models, Egyptian rocket systems derived from the Soviet ones, and Milan missiles from France, Swingfire missiles produced in Egypt under British license, and TOW (tube-launched, optically sighted, wire-guided) missiles from the United States. The army mounted the TOWs and Swingfires on locally built jeeps. A plan to add TOWs to Fahd APCs was still at the prototype stage.

During the 1980s, the armed forces implemented a program to improve the quality and efficiency of its defense system by introducing modern armaments while reducing the number of personnel. The army was expected to lose more personnel than the other branches of the military. The army, however, had little incentive to cut its enlisted strength because doing so would further reduce the need for officers, who were already in excess of available positions. Moreover, service in the army helped relieve the nation's unemployment situation and provided some soldiers with vocational training. Nevertheless, plans called for a reduction in army strength by as much as 25 percent.

The 1991 Gulf War, in which Iraqi equipment, several generations newer than Egypt's Soviet equipment, was badly outclassed by Western types, convinced the Egyptian military that it must devote more effort to replacement than upgrading of old equipment. The arms reductions following the CFE treaty and the end of the Cold War provided the means. Talk of upgrading T-55 MBTs gave way to scrapping them, one-for-one, as surplus US Army M-60s were acquired and converted to M-60A3 standard. Even so, while some 700 M-60s had been acquired by mid-1992, updating fell behind schedule and more than half the Army's equipment was still of Eastern origin. A replacement APC, able to keep up with M1A1, was the main priority. It was announced in October 1992, that major purchases of new US military equipment would be postponed until 1997 or later.

On May 12, 2016 the first shipment of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles from the United States arrived in the port of Alexandria for delivery to the Egyptian military. The heavily armored MRAP vehicles are specifically designed to protect soldiers from blasts from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), landmines, and from other types of attacks. Today’s delivery was the first batch of a total of 762 MRAP vehicles that the United States is transferring to Egypt. This new capability will be used to combat terrorism and promote stability in the region.

Originally designed to support United States military operations in Afghanistan, MRAPs provide enhanced levels of protection to soldiers, and are proven to save lives. The U.S. Embassy Senior Defense Official in Cairo, Major General Charles Hooper, stated, “The delivery of these MRAPs to Egypt provides a crucial capability needed during these times of regional instability and is part of the continuing strong relationship between the U.S. and Egypt.”

This delivery of MRAPs was part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Excess Defense Articles grant program, in which the vehicles are transferred at no-cost to the Government of Egypt. This delivery is the most recent step taken by the U.S. government in support of Egypt’s fight against terrorism and is part of a broad range of military cooperation initiatives between the two countries.

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Page last modified: 06-11-2016 19:26:37 ZULU