Initial interest for the Northrop F-5E was shown when Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat visited Washington on 06-04-1977 requesting the delivery of 20-24 Northrop F-5E without success, request that was renewed beginning of 1977, this time for 30-40 aircrafts.
The request was looked in a more favourable light beginning of 1978, when the US Senate voted in favour of "Middle East Fighter Package", to counterbalance the delivery of McDonnell Douglas F-15s both to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Egyptian government obtained a letter of offer covering 42 F-5E and 8 F-5F at a total cost of USD 400m, Saudi Arabia financing the deal. Negotiations were expected to be ended by July 1978 in order that delivery of first 8 aircrafts, former Ethiopia destined, could be effected within 2 months.
Criticism came from Israel, that protested. Egypt was satisfied for the delivery of combat aircrafts but felt quantity to be insufficient.