– U.S. finalizes $30 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia (Haaretz, Dec. 29, 2011):
White House says agreement – under which 84 F-15 fighter jets will be sold to the kingdom, will help U.S. economy and strengthen regional security.
The U.S has finalized the sale of F-15 fighter Jets to Saudi Arabia in a deal worth 30 billion dollars, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the statement, the agreement includes “production of 84 new aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.”
Last year, Israel tried to prevent the contract going through, fearing it would undermine its air force superiority.
Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, said that the deal won’t impact Israel.
“Let me just say that by law, all sales to the region must be evaluated for the impact on Israel’s qualitative military edge”, he said. “We conducted that assessment, and we are satisfied that this sale to Saudi Arabia will not decrement Israel’s qualitative military edge”.
Though the White House stressed on Thursday that the agreement “will positively impact the U.S. economy,” Earnest also hinted at Iran, saying that it “reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.”
Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller added that the US is currently looking to sell F-16 to Iraq, explaining: “We’re looking to provide a very significant capability with the F-16s to Iraq as well with a very heavy focus on air-to-air capabilities in that case”.