Egypt is to sign a $3.2bn agreement with the US Government to purchase 24 F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed.

The contract, which is expected to be signed in the beginning of 2010, will increase the current fleet of F-16s in service with the country’s air force.

The two-seat special-mission F-16 aircraft is equipped with helmet-mounted displays and carries the Lockheed LANTIRN infrared navigation and targeting system.

The F-16 combat aircraft carries short-range air-to-air missiles, high off-boresight infrared air-to-air missiles, medium-range air-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles.

The Egyptian Air Force, which began flying the F-16 in 1982, is currently the fourth largest F-16 operator in the world.