The 222nd Tactical Fighter Brigade retired its last F-4E Phantoms in 1988, placing the aircraft in storage/reserve, while the 76th and 78th Squadrons were inactivated.
Now, however, the base has been rebuilt to accommodate new F-16s, which have replaced the ageing Phantoms, writes Jon Lake.
The Egyptian Air Force was supplied with 35 ex-USAFE F-4Es under the September 1977 Peace Pharaoh agreement, and also received AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles at a cost of $594 million. Ten further F-4Es were delivered between 1988 and 2000, bringing the 76th and 78th Squadrons to full strength and replacing losses.
Plans to procure more F-4Es were abandoned in favour of acquiring the F-16, and the multi-phase Peace Vector programme saw Egypt receiving a total of 220 F-16s between 1982 and 2002. Some 138 were delivered to Block 40 standards, 46 of them built by TUSAS in Turkey, and the remaining Block 15 F-16A/Bs and Block 32 F-16C/Ds were upgraded to Block 42 standards. These aircraft equipped air wings at Inshas, Beni Suef, Abu Sueir, Gianaklis, and Fayid.
However, the final 16 Block 52 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds, ordered under Peace Vector VII, were always intended to re-equip the units at Cairo West, and Peace Vector VII also covered the upgrade of existing F-4 operations and maintenance facilities to allow their use for the F-16 programme.
Cairo West Air Base was to be fully functional, self-sustaining, and not reliant on facilities at other bases for operational or maintenance functions, while supporting operations by the F-4, the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft, and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport.
This saw the construction of more than 100 buildings vital to the operation and maintenance of the aircraft including hangars, training facilities, munitions storage, living quarters, dining halls, and offices.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of the $184 million construction project and the delivery of the 20 Peace Vector VII Block 52 F-16s was held in late 2019. The new F-16s finally replaced the Egyptian F-4 fleet early this year, providing a significant increase in military capability.
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