Obama Administration Releases Helicopters
By Harold Hutchison
Ten Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters which had been held up by the Obama Administration in the wake of the Egyptian military’s removal of Mohammed Morsi from power last summer are now on their way. The reversal comes a month after an urgent request from the country’s interim government.
According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the decision comes after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged further attacks on Egyptian security forces in a 19 April audio message. The Egyptian government has been fighting a terrorist group associated with al-Qaeda, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, most notably in the Sinai Peninsula.
During testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Llyod Austin, commander of United States Central Command, stated that Apaches were “very instrumental” in Egyptian efforts to fight terrorism in the Sinai. Apache helicopters can fire AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, which have also been used on Predator and Reaper UAVs in the Global War on Terror.
The Obama Administration imposed an arms embargo on Egypt in the wake of Morsi’s removal. Other items of the $1.6 billion aid package being held up include F-16 Fighting Falcons, parts for the M1A1 Abrams tank (used by the Egyptian military), and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted that while the Apaches would be delivered, other items would still be held up.