Armor: January 9, 2003


Desert-fighting armies appreciate the value of an Abrams Main Battle Tank, but it takes time to build a proper fleet of armor. Egypt ordered an additional 100 M1A1 tanks from the United States in August 2001, planning to expand its Abrams tank fleet to 755 by November 2005. Egypt assembles these kits at their Tank Factory outside Cairo at a production rate of four per month.

By 1998, Egypt had 555 M1A1 tanks (Batch 1) and in 1999, started production of an additional 100 (Batch 2) that will be finished in April 2003 when 100 modified hardware kits are delivered from America. According to the Department of Defense, the Batch 2 package cost the Egyptians $564 million. The Batch 3 package cost $590 million in July 2001 (A finished US Army or Marine Corps M1A1 retails for $4.3 million per copy). 

Each of these packages also included the logistical "tail" of spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, US Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, technical assistance and support, and other related elements of logistics support. General Dynamics Land Systems charged the Egyptian coproduction program $141 million for modifying 100 M1A1 hardware kits alone.

Beyond the Abrams' purely military value as an incredible advantage for any desert armored force, the M1A1s are political capital in America's quest to keep her moderate Arab allies happy. The enhanced M1A2 is used by Kuwait (218) and Saudi Arabia (315), although these tanks come directly from General Dynamics Land Systems Lima production line. Israel is less-than-thrilled with this trend, which may partially explain why they aggravate their ally America by selling military technology to China. - Adam Geibel 


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