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GABORONE, Botswana — The United States and Egyptian governments will soon resume the co-production of M1A1 Abrams tanks, weapon systems and accessories after signing a deal that formalized the collaboration between the Egyptian Tank Plant and US defense equipment manufacturer General Dynamics Land Systems.

The production is partly meant to fulfill a 2011 Egyptian order of 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks from General Dynamics, delivery of which was halted in July 2013 when the US government froze military aid to protest the military coup that toppled Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president.

The bulk of the tank order will be produced locally at Egyptian Tank Plant 200, a military industrial complex located in the city of Helwan just outside the capital of Cairo.

According to a statement from the US Embassy in Cairo, the agreement was signed Oct. 15 between Egypt's Minister of State for Military Production Mohamed Al-Assar, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Robert Stephen Beecroft and Donald Schenk, the vice chairman of General Dynamics.

The US government and General Dynamics agreed to provide the components necessary for the resumption of production of the M1A1 Abrams tanks in Egypt. Delivery of the 125 will bring the Egyptian Army's number of Abrams M1A1 tanks in service to 1,130.

The reopening of the factory marks yet another thaw in the US-Egyptian security relationship which has since March this year seen the unlocking of military aid packages that were frozen to protest the military coup in July 2013.

In terms of the deal, General Dynamics Land Systems will supply 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits for co-production, 125 M256 Armament Systems, 125 M2 .50-caliber machine guns, 250 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 125 AGT-1500 M1A1 series tank engines and transmission systems and 120mm test cartridges.

GD will also supply spare and repair parts, maintenance, support equipment, special tool and test equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. government and contractor engineering and logistics support services and other related elements of logistical and program support.

At least 2,500 people will be employed for the duration of the contract. Since the unlocking of vital components of the $1.3 billion annual military aid package to Egypt, the country has received 10 of the 12 AH-64 Apache helicopters ordered from the US in 2009. The Egyptian Air Force has also taken delivery of 12 of the F-16 fighter jets ordered from the US three years ago.

The Egyptian Navy has taken delivery of two Fast Missile Crafts, the delivery of which was also frozen after the 2013 coup. According to a directive issued by President Barack Obama in March, Egypt also will shortly take delivery of 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles and some Hellfire missiles to help the country fight terrorism internally and in the broader Middle East and North Africa regions.

Email: onkala@defensenews.com

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