Egypt air force chief downplays importance of US F-35 sales to Israel

Commander of the Egyptian Air Force Reda Mahmoud Hafez on Wednesday downplayed the military importance of a recent decision by Washington to provide Israel with a number of US F-35 fighter jets and dismissed fears that the move might alter the regional balance of power.

Last week, Israel signed a contract with the US for the purchase of 20 F-35 fighter jets as part of what US officials described as an incentive package for the self-proclaimed Jewish state to move ahead with sputtering peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

“We're not alarmed by certain countries of the region that are eager to possess modern fighter planes,” Hafez told the official Middle East News Agency in reference to the deal.  “The Egyptian Air Force and the country's air-defense systems are working hand-in-hand to protect Egypt’s skies.”

“We are modernizing our military capacities to provide appropriate means of combating hostilities,” the commander added. “But we aren't interested in entering into an arms race with anyone.”

The sale of the US-made Joint Strike Fighters, which will provide Israel with more sophisticated combat aircraft than any other nation in the Middle East, comes amid rising tension between the US and Israel and Iran. The deal also comes in the wake of a major US arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

 Translated from the Arabic Edition. 

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