Cairo military firmly hooked to U.S. lifeline

The money seems like a pittance for Egypt, which has a $256 billion economy. But the $1.3 billion in military aid that the United States gives the country every year is its main access to the kind of big-ticket, sophisticated weaponry that the Egyptian military loves. …

In fact, Egypt is so enamored of Apache attack helicopters, M1A1 battle tanks and F-16 fighter jets that exasperated American military officials have been telling generals there for years that they need to expand beyond the hardware of bygone wars and spend more American money on border security, as well as counterterrorism and surveillance equipment and training that a truly modern military needs. …

Even if Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies make up for any aid the United States may suspend, Washington would block Egypt from buying American weaponry with that money — a serious long-term problem for a military that is already viewed as sclerotic and has neglected pilot training so badly that the Egyptian air force has one of the worst crash rates of any F-16 fleet in the world.