The US is to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt despite the political chaos that has gripped the country.

Washington defence officials said that senior administration leaders had discussed the delivery part of a $1.3bn (£860m) package approved in 2010 in the wake of the coup and decided to let it continue.

"We do not believe it is in the best interests of the United States to make immediate changes to our assistance programmes," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The jets are to be delivered in the coming weeks. Eight F-16s - built by US security and defence giant Lockheed Martin - were delivered in January as part of the same package.

"[Aid to Egypt] has been around for quite some time and has a range of reasons as to why we do it," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by military intervention after days of huge popular demonstrations.

According to US laws, Washington has to cut aid to countries if a military coup takes place but the White House has avoided labelling Morsi's ousting as such. Some senior politicians, however, have taken a different tack.

"I understand that the military's removal of Morsi from office was undertaken with broad public support in the name of democracy and could ultimately lead Egypt to a more inclusive and representative civilian government," US senator John McCain said while calling for a suspension of the aid programme.

"However, it is difficult for me to conclude that what happened was anything other than a coup in which the military played a decisive role.

"I do not want to suspend our critical assistance to Egypt, but I believe that is the right thing to do at this time," McCain said.

The decision comes after a week of violence and widespread demonstrations in Egypt.

Supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood accused Egyptian troops of gunning down 51 protesters, while Islamist group violence has risen in the lawless Sinai peninsula.

Egypt Morsi Coup: Gulf States Offer Interim President Adli Mansour $8bn in Aid