Four US-made F-16 fighter jets have joined the Egyptian Air Force as part of Egyptian-American military cooperation, said Egyptian Air Force Commander Younes al Masry.
He said that the F-16 fighter jets would be used against militants around the Egyptian border, and the main aim would be to protect Egypt’s national security.
The F-16 Block 52 aircraft is a premier fighter aircraft, capable of practising reconnaissance and surveillance missions, air-to-ground attacks and air-to-air engagement.
Additionally, the United States will supply follow-on maintenance as well as training for Egyptian Air Force pilots and ground crew. The aircraft was handed over under the "Peace Vector" programme under which the Egyptian military procured the F-16 fighter jets for 30 years.
In the beginning of April the United States declared it ended the freeze on supply of 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of military equipment to Egypt, which was put in place two years after then General Abdel Fatah al Sisi seized power from Mohamed Morsi in a military coup.
However, according to the US Foreign Assistance Act, which first passed back in 1961, "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree."
The US government has been flexible over this Act.
Max Fisher, a journalist, commented on the issue in an article for the Washington Post on July 5, 2013, stating that "while the US often does follow this law, it tends to ignore or bypass it when it sees key national security interests at stake – which may well apply in Egypt."
The White House affirmed Max Fisher’s claims and released a statement on March 31 2015 stating that "the president explained that these and other steps will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to US and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries.
Rights activists voiced deep concerns over ending of the freeze. Neil Hicks, a director at Human Rights First, said that giving military aid to Egypt would send the message that human rights are not a top priority for the US.