The U.S. is delaying the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt because of the “fluid situation” in that country after the military’s ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi, a Pentagon spokesman said.
“Given the overall situation in Egypt right now, we thought it prudent to make this decision,” Defense Department spokesman George Little told reporters today at the Pentagon.
The jets are part of a scheduled delivery of 20 F-16s to Egypt this year as part of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by telephone today with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdelfatah al-Seesi to notify him of the delay and to discuss al-Seesi’s call for a mass rally in support of the military, Little said.
The Obama administration is reviewing whether Mursi’s ouster requires suspending U.S. aid. A U.S. law requires denying assistance to a country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’etat.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today that the delayed F-16 delivery represents a “very specific decision made at this specific time about this specific case” and said it doesn’t reflect any broader determination about further U.S. assistance.
“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward with the delivery of F-16s at this time,” she said.