Apache helicopter
Apache helicopterIsrael news photo: IDF

The United States is sending Egypt 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt to help counterterrorism efforts, reports the Oman Observer.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called his Egyptian counterpart, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi, and informed him of the decision, according to a statement.

The choppers are to help Egypt’s counterterrorism operations in the Sinai.

Hagel told Sobhi that the US believes the new helicopters “will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten US and Egyptian security,” according to the statement from Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby.

In July 2013, the US put a hold on the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets, M2A1 tanks and Apache helicopters following the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi. The US said it would refrain from making more military deliveries until it determined if Morsi’s ouster was a coup.

Hagel told Sobhi that Secretary of State John Kerry would “soon” certify to Congress that Egypt is holding up its strategic relationship with the US and meeting its obligations. But it was not clear if this means the US now believes Morsi’s ouster was not a coup, nor if the other military equipment will be delivered, said the Observer.

Hagel also told Sobhi that the US does not yet believe Egypt is supporting a democratic transition.

The timing of the US move may be linked to reports Friday that Cairo and Moscow have reached an initial agreement on implementing a new Russian arms delivery deal worth over $3 billion.

Egypt's defense minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is likely to become the new president, negotiated the agreement, aimed at replacing decreased assistance from Washington, during talks in Moscow last Thursday between Russian and Egyptian foreign and defense ministers.

Russia's Vedomosti cited Russian defense sources as saying that the sides initialed or signed contracts for the delivery of MiG-29M/M2 Fulcrum fighter jets, air defense missile complexes, Mi-35 helicopters, coastal anti-ship complexes, light weapons and ammunition.