Biden administration approves $197m arms sale to Egypt

Sale includes rolling airframe tactical missiles and related equipment

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price stands at a podium as Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy Lenderking speaks via teleconference during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 16, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

The US State Department on Tuesday approved an arms sale to Egypt valued at about $200 million, the first weapons sale under the Biden administration.

The notification of approval said the sale included rolling airframe missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $197m.

Egypt had requested up to 168 Rim‑116C Ram Block 2 missiles, it said, along with shipping and storage containers, operator manuals and technical documentation, and support services.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-Nato ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East,” the department read.

The sale is designed to support the Egyptian Navy’s fast missile craft ships and boost Cairo’s defence capabilities in the country's coastal areas and approaches to the Suez Canal.

The main contractor for the sale will be Raytheon, based in Arizona.

By US law, Congress will have 30 days to review the sale but its approval is not required for the transaction.

Neither President Joe Biden nor Secretary of State Antony Blinken have called Egyptian leaders yet.

Last May, the Trump administration approved a deal to provide Egypt with equipment to refurbish 43 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for an estimated $2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price said US officials were aware of reports that family members of activist Mohamed Soltan had been detained, and were looking into the situation.

"We have and we continue to engage with the Egyptian government on human rights concerns and we take seriously all allegations of arbitrary arrest or detention,” Mr Price said.

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