Chronology: US-Egyptian Military Relationship

by Joe Stork , Danny Reachard
published in MER90

1974

February 28 Kissinger and Sadat, in Cairo, announce US-Egyptian diplomatic relations to resume, following June 1967 rupture.

March 18 State Department announces US Navy will help clear mines from Suez Canal.

April 18 Sadat announces Egypt ending 18 years of reliance on Soviet arms.

April 19 US “senior official” says US has no “current plans” to sell Egypt arms.

May 24 Limited USSR arms shipments reported resumed to Egypt.

June 12-14 Nixon visits Cairo. Communiqué stresses economic aid, nuclear technology exchange.

June 20 Team of high US military officials to visit Egypt, discuss expansion of ties, Washington Post reports.

June 22 Kissinger assures Israelis that military mission does not mean arms sales.

July 14 US military mission in Cairo for eight-day visit.

1975

January 1-2 Hundreds of industrial workers riot over economic conditions; thousands of students support demands.

January 4 Sadat announces roundup of “secret communist” group behind disturbances.

January 8 Sadat says visit of foreign, defense ministers to Moscow in December found USSR unwilling to replace October war losses, supply new weapons.

January 27-29 Sadat in France, signs agreement for purchase of Mirage F-1s.

February 5 Gromyko in Cairo, provides “limited satisfaction” to arms requests.

February 16 Congressional armed services committee delegation visits Egypt.

June 11 Vice President Mubarak says Britain, France competing to set up arms industry in Egypt.

August Egypt privately requests F-5 warplanes from US. Pentagon discloses in 1978 that Egyptian pilots and maintenance officers trained on F-5s in Saudi Arabia in 1975.

October 26 Sadat visits US, says arms sales “important.”

November 6-8 Sadat in London, says Britain to sell $2 billion worth of military equipment.

November 20 Kissinger tells Congress US “could get substantial arms orders from Egypt,” no decision in process, could come “later next year.”

November 22 USSR-Egypt talks to reschedule military and trade December 13 debts end in failure.

December 14 Giscard in Cairo: France to help set up arms industry.

1976

February 8 President Ford announces sale of six C-130s, assures Congress this will not “start a military relationship with Egypt.”

February 21-29 Sadat tours Gulf, nets $300 million each from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as $150 million from the UAE.

March 4 Kissinger says no more Egyptian arms will be requested “in next few months;” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld expects sales of “other things.”

March 14 Sadat calls on People’s Assembly to abrogate 1971 Treaty of Friendship with USSR, claims USSR refused India permission to supply MiG spares.

March 19 President Ford hails Sadat move, says it will “be responded to by the US economically and otherwise.”

March 29-April 10 Sadat tours Europe, announces cancellation of USSR port rights.

April 6 TASS director says USSR filled all arms commitments but not new requests.

April 15 Last five Soviet warships leave Alexandria.

April 18 Mubarak leads military-economic delegation to Bejing; Gamasi returns from “successful” arms buying trip to Romania.

July 13-15 Sudanese President Numayri in Cairo for “military coordination” talks, signs joint defense pact.

July 18 Gulf Agency for the Development of Egypt set up to channel, monitor aid to Egypt; capitalized at $2 billion; Sadat claims $10-12 billion needed.

July 19 Textile Company workers sitdown strike: 15 injured, 36 arrested by police. Libyan-Egyptian tensions rise; troops along border.

September 19-20 Cairo bus drivers strike.

October 28 Three killed in disturbances during People’s Assembly elections.

November 14 Sadat tells US senators US arms “an obligation.... I have proved myself to you.”

1977

January 9 French defense minister ends five-day visit, promises technical assistance for Arab arms industry; co-production of Mirage F-1 through Gulf-funded Arab Organization for Industry (AOI).

January 12 Cyrus Vance, at confirmation hearings, refuses to rule out arms sales to Egypt.

January 18-19 Thousands of workers, students demonstrate over price hikes; 65 killed, 1,200 arrested, 360 injured; riot police use US-made tear gas equipment.

January 26 Sadat bans demonstrations, strikes.

February 2 Israelis claim USSR arms reaching Egypt through third country; US analysts agree.

February 10 Referendum approves Sadat ban on strikes by 99.4 percent.

February 29 Pravda says USSR rapidly rearmed Egypt after 1967 and 1973 wars; Sadat says USSR to deliver 50 refurbished MiG-21s.

April 1-6 Sadat, in US, presents military “shopping list” to Carter, Brown, Kissinger. Preliminary negotiations for F-5s. Brown: “no commitments made or expected soon;” Jody Powell: Africa “an area of deep concern to both presidents.... Egypt’s importance on the continent noted.... [expect] close, continuing discussions on developments in Africa.”

April 18 Defense Secretary Brown says US “considering the approaches” to arms aid to Egypt; interested “to see the president of Egypt had a strategic concept that encompassed Africa as well as the Middle East.”

May 3 Sadat dispatches pilots to Zaire in Shaba conflict.

May 25 US House approves foreign military aid bill, including $750 million for Egypt.

June 26 Egypt receiving MiG spares through China; USSR scores Sadat’s “anti-Soviet” role in Africa.

July 17 Sadat: USSR cancelled military pacts, refuses weapons, spares; Saudis to finance armed forces development.

July 23 Major border clash with Libya; Tripoli reports downing US-made drone.

July 27 Carter informs some Congressmen of plans to sell 14 more C-130s, 12 Firebee drones, also plans sale to Sudan and Somalia.

Midsummer Egypt uses C-130s to transport Soviet arms to Somalia in Ogaden fighting. State Department later characterizes this as “not a substantial violation” of transfer restrictions.

September 15 State Department confirms to Senate that GE, Lockheed repairing 200 Egyptian MiGs in “a European country.” Sen. Stone (ardently pro-Israel) notes Dayan raised no objection to latest C-130 sale. Carter now has 25 different Egyptian arms requests; ACDA reviewed 60 cases for release of munitions control items to Egypt over past year.

September 29 Sadat puts ten-year moratorium on $4 billion military debt to USSR.

November 20 Sadat to Jerusalem; addresses Knesset.

1978

January 23 Sadat asks US for “all the arms Israel’s got.”

February 8 Sadat presses congressmen for US arms: “I am not shy any more.” Sen. Jackson says Sadat made “a very good case, going beyond his own country, into the situation in Africa.” Brown invites Gamasi to Washington; arms requests under “active consideration.”

February 13-14 Sadat visits Giscard, discusses supply of Mirage F-1s.

February 16 Carter announces $4.8 billion package sale of warplanes to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt.

February 19 UN Ambassador Andrew Young says “the only thing that can be dangerous to the US and to Israel right now might be the overthrow of Sadat by his own armed forces. I think that’s the reason the president made the decision of promising to send airplanes to Egypt.” Cites discussions with Egyptians at UN as source.

March 2 Egypt orders 46 Mirage F-1s.

April 26 Carter rejects Congress request to delay package deal.

May 3 House Foreign Affairs Committee opposes deal.

May 12 Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly blocks move to stop sale.

June 6 Gamasi meets with Vance, Brown, Brzezinski. Egyptian air force and army personnel visit North American Air Defense Command in Colorado, Northrop headquarters in Los Angeles, Special Forces headquarters at Ft. Bragg.

September Camp David negotiations.

November 16 Mubarak to US. Head of Dassault, manufacturer of Mirage, asserts that part of the “Pax Americana” of Camp David is to exclude France from arms markets; sees US behind Sadat dismissal of AOI chief Ashraf Marwan.

December 6 Saudis agree to finance 50 F-5Es at $590 million

1979

January 8 Freedom House survey finds political and civil rights decline in Egypt in 1978.

February 11 State Department human rights report cites Sadat “repudiation” of Nasser “authoritarian excesses.”

February 16 Sadat’s $15 billion “Carter Plan” for Egypt “startles” Secretary of Defense Brown, in Egypt to tour military facilities.

February 19 Brown urges substantial increases in military aid to Egypt. Tells Sadat “difficult” to implement until treaty is signed.

March 2 Egyptian Chief of Staff Badawi ends Zaire visit; Zaire artillery officers to train in Cairo military academy.

March 4 Major disturbances in industrial city of Helwan.

March 6 Foreign Minister Ghali denies PFLO charge that Egyptians replace Iranian troops in Oman, says Egypt “will not hesitate” to assist militarily any Gulf state.

March 9 Carter treaty shuttle; Brown, Brzezinski in “parallel set of discussions about Egypt’s long-range strategic position.”

March 13 Sadat accepts Carter proposal to break deadlock. Muslim youth stage violent anti-treaty demonstrations in Asyout. Parts of Alexandria University shut down.

March 21 Carter tentatively approves 35 F-5s, 800 APCs to Egypt, refuses F-16s.

March 25 Defense Minister Hasan Ali, Gen. Sadiq visit Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

March 27 Treaty signed in Washington. Manchester Guardian says Egypt in “state of siege:” 20,000 elite troops with anti-riot gear in Cairo alone. 10,000 National Police retrained and equipped since January 1977 riots.

April Arab boycott threatens military production plans. Only joint venture with American Motors, producing jeeps, other military vehicles, now in operation.

April 11 Sadat tells Sen. Roth Egypt welcomes US presence in Gulf. Vance, Brown deny US intent to seek bases in Middle East.

April 20 Egypt seeks 50 HAWK missile batteries. US Air Force personnel, civilian technicians to Egypt for C-130s; air defense experts inspect Soviet missiles, radar.

April Senate Foreign Relations Committee report notes Egypt transfer of Soviet eqiupment to Somalia, Zambia, Chad, Zaire and Eritrean Liberation Front.

May 22 Congress approves $4.8 billion treaty aid package. US Air Force and Defense Security Assistance Agency officials in Egypt to discuss supplies, training. Saudi refusal to fund arms deals to mean requests beyond $1.5 billion in treaty package. F-4s from US Air Force inventory to help lower costs.

June 1 Pentagon announces English courses for 56 Egyptian F-4E pilots.

June 6 Sadat asks US for licenses to coproduce advanced weapons.

July 6 State Dept. says F-5 deal postponed after Saudi pullout.

August 9 Pentagon officials McGiffert and Perry (director of research) head team of 20 to Cairo for complete military survey. US officially stresses Egypt’s “legitimate defense needs.” Privately argues modernization needed to prevent erosion of military support for Sadat.

Early September Chief of Staff Badawi visits Washington to set military aid details, tour US military training sites.

September 19 7 F-4s, 50 APCs arrive in Egypt, first “lethal” deliveries. 75 US technicians to handle logistics, maintenance. Egyptian pilots had flown Phantoms in Iran before Shah’s fall.

October 2 Assistant Secretary of Defense Eric von Marbod completes talks with senior Egyptian military.

October 21 Defense Minister Hasan, Pentagon’s Perry sign agreement for co-production of tracked armored vehicles, electronic gear, spares, ammunition.

December 7 US Army Secretary Clifford Alexander in Cairo. Pentagon’s McGiffert informs Senate Foreign Relations Committee (closed session) of Project Peace Vector: Egyptian military modernization at $2.5 to $6 billion over six years.

1980

January 8 US acknowledges two AWACS operating out of Qina Air Base since mid-December.

January 9 State Dept. “rejects” Israeli, Egyptian base offers, but says US “may use” Egyptian bases for future operations; claims AWACS deployment is “one-shot deal.”

January 16 Mubarak meets Northrup officials to discuss F-5 co-production.

January 18 Financial Times reports Egyptian military disenchantment with US aid so far is partly responsible for leap in amount and sophistication of weapons. Chinese more appreciated for Shenyang F-6 fighters, and for getting Soviet craft in the air again. Middle East Newsletter (London) reports in early February that Egyptian military unease was responsible for Sadat insistence that no bases were offered to US.

January 28 Aviation Week quotes Pentagon that Egypt has spent $1.5 billion Camp David credits on 35 Phantoms, 800 APCs, 11 HAWK missile batteries.

February 13 Defense Minister Ali says Afghan rebels get training, weapons from Egypt.

February 16 Gen. Bryce Poe of Air Force Logistics Command in Cairo with staff of 11. Middle East Newsletter (London) reports US military team studying US use of Sinai bases.

February 20 Assistant Secretary of Defense McGiffert back in Cairo with team of 21; Cairo Embassy staff now totals 285, no end in sight.

February 21 Defense Minister Ali, after talks with McGiffert, says new credits open doors to acquisition of F-16s, F-15s, M-60 tanks. McGiffert flies to Israel to inspect Negev bases, brief Israelis on Cairo talks. About 100 US Air Force personnel now at Cairo West base. Co-production negotiations cover F-5s, Bell 214 ST copters, to replace Saudi-financed European deals.

February 22 Singer Co. gets contract to provide training systems for F-4Es ($3.9 million).

March 9 Brown discloses AWACS still in Egypt; crossed Saudi Arabia three times to Indian Ocean for exercises with US warships.

March 13 Pentagon notifies Congress of plans to sell Egypt 244 M-60 tanks, spares, training ($454.1 million); will delay delivery to US Army by 18 months, also postpone increased production of new XM-1 main battle tank. Israel radio quotes Cairo that five divisions to be redeployed from Suez front to Cairo, Nile Delta, Libyan border; one division prepared for rapid intervention in Sudan, Gulf.

March 18 US Tactical Air Command chief, Gen. Creech, in Cairo to visit Egyptian air force units. Creech later runs Operation Red Flag in Nevada, June 1980.

March 25 Pentagon announces sale of APCs, spares, training (FMC Corp., $82.8 million) and other equipment.

April 4 Chad Justice Minister says Egypt arming (Defense Ministry) Habre faction in civil war.

April 14 Last four Phantoms arrive. Israeli assistant defense minister in Cairo for “normalization” talks.

April 19 Chief of Staff Badawi receives Chinese Deputy Chief of Staff Liu Kan, in Cairo from Somalia.

April 24 Maariv writes that US Air Force utilizing Qina as “operational base” for several days; C-130s unloading electronic gear; AWACS still there, coordinating Egyptian fighters in joint maneuvers. That evening US rescue raid on Iran will be launched utilizing Qina facilities.

April 30 McGiffert back in Cairo, meets with Badawi, Mubarak, US ambassador Atherton.

May 23 Pentagon reveals letter of offer to Egypt for 40 F-16s, 600 Maverick missiles, 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs, spares, training, etc. Number of US personnel involved not determined. F-16s to be allocated from production programmed for USAF.

May 25 Sadat proposes US station F-15s, other sophisticated equipment in Egypt for use by US in crisis. US reveals talks on coproduction of Northrup FX for export, to replace F-5s. June 10 EAF commander says US technicians will arrive late June to arrange F-16 deliveries.

June 12 US announces Phantom squadron to fly in for three months training with Egyptian “sister squadrons,” practice “bare base.”

June 19 US officials in Cairo upset by publicity here and in Washington over US military presence at Qina and Cairo West. F-4 training program experiencing difficulties, straining critically short skilled maintenance.

June 21 Jordanian paper al-Ra’y reports highly advanced US radar and telecommunications equipment to be installed near Libyan border, operated by US.

June 27 US officials acknowledge CIA responsibility for clandestine radio broadcasts against Iran since mid-May, beamed from Egyptian transmitters near Alexandria and Suez.

July 10 US Air Force Phantom squadron arrives at Cairo West; exercise to cost $20-25 million; Air Force chief of operations and readiness says, “It should be more realistic than the Red Flag.”

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