News Column

Halting Egypt Military Aid Could Hurt Defense Industry

August 20, 2013

Amid Egypt's violence-marred unrest, the U.S. may indefinitely stop arms shipments to the turbulent Middle East ally -- a move that could inflict collateral damage on Central Florida's defense industry, industry experts say.

U.S. officials are already reviewing whether to delay the scheduled deliveries of F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, among other systems, Bloomberg News reported this week.

Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Orlando missiles unit produces weapons-targeting and navigation systems for F-16s and Apaches. Egypt has been a big foreign-military customer for the equipment for more than a decade.

If the U.S. curtails such sales to Egypt, Lockheed and other U.S. defense contractors would take a big hit at a time when they have increasingly relied on foreign arms deals to help offset U.S. military spending cuts.

"U.S. contractors would take a hit over the long run if this delay becomes prolonged or turns into an outright cancellation," said Paul Taibl, a defense analyst and assistant vice president of the Business Executives for National Security.

"From all we can tell, however, this appears to be a temporary halt of shipments to Egypt," he added. "Though these days you never know, one would anticipate some stability to be restored and these deliveries to resume without too long a delay."

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(c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

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