June 27, 2005

U.S. moves to supply Egypt air defense units

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon notified Congress onMonday of a proposed sale to Egypt of 25 Avenger air defensesystems plus related equipment valued at up to $126 million.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon armthat handles government-to-government arms sales, said the saleof the units that fire Stinger missiles would reduce Egypt'sdependence on its old Soviet-supplied air defense systems.

It also would enhance "potential interoperability" withU.S. forces, the agency said in a mandatory notice of aproposed weapons sale that lawmakers still have the power toblock.

The principal contractor for the Avenger is Boeing Co. .

In a companion notice, the Pentagon proposed to sell Egypt50 turbine engines for Chinook helicopters and associatedhardware and services. The prime contractor would be HoneywellInternational Inc., the notice said.

Both proposed sales were described by the Pentagon ascontributing to U.S. national security by boosting a friendlystate that continues to be "an important force for politicalstability and economic progress in the Middle East."

The announcement of the deals comes a week after Secretaryof State Condoleezza Rice was in Cairo criticizing the Egyptiangovernment for emergency law, arbitrary justice and violenceagainst peaceful demonstrators.