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Lockheed Sells 24 F-16 Fighter Jets to Egypt

The Egyptian Air Force is the fourth largest F-16 operator in the world.

In a $3.2 billion deal, Egypt will purchase 24 F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed Martin. "We understand that the governments of the United States and Egypt have reached an agreement over a contract for military sale to provide 24 F-16s to Egypt," Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout said.

The F-16 is flown by 25 nations, according to the company. More than 4,400 aircraft have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five countries.

The Egyptian Air Force is the fourth largest F-16 operator in the world, according to defense industry reports. It began flying the F-16 in 1982, after years of using military equipment supplied by the former Soviet Union.

U.S.-Egypt relations have improved under President Barack Obama's administration. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a veteran Middle East power broker, flew to Washington in August for his first presidential summit in the United States in five years, following differences with the previous George W. Bush administration.

Obama chose to address the Muslim world in Cairo in June, vowing a "new beginning" for U.S. ties with the Islamic world and promising to end years of "suspicion and discord."

Egypt, which receives about $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid, was the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, a top U.S. ally.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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