The Carter administration announced yesterday it is extending $594 million in credits to Egypt to enable that country to buy 35 F4E fighter-bombers and the weapons to go with them.
At the same time, the administration formally confirmed that it has postponed planned deliveries of 50 F5E warplanes to Egypt because Saudi Arabia has not come through with $525 million for them.
Saudi Arabia had agreed to bankroll the F5E sale, but apparently is holding back the money to protest Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's signing of a separate peace treaty with Israel.
At noon yesterday, the State Department posted an answer to a press query that indicated it had given up hope that the Saudis would provide the money for the F5Es. It said: "This proposed sale has been postponed."
By late afternoon, State had amended that response, stating: "While the sale of F5s is not going forward, the U.S. considers that the transaction is still pending."
The F4 fighter-bombers, which do not depend on Saudi financing, are more lethal than the 50 F5E Sadat was to receive under an Egyptian-Israeli arms package put together by the administration in February 1978.
Under current Pentagon plans, Sadat will have at least a dozen of the F4s, as well as Egyptian pilots trained in the United States to fly them, for his October parade marking the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Besides the planes, which can carry a heavy load of bombs and misssiles, the Pentagon package includes 350 Sparrow heat-seeking missiles for dog-fighting, 70 Sparrow missiles for longer range air-to-ground missiles.
The Pentagon said that between 50 and 120 military and civilian aircraft specialist will be sent to Egypt temporarily to maintain the F4s. An additional 25 employes of U.S. defense contractors are expected to go to Egypt for the same purpose.