Largest-Ever Deal: $60b in Planes and Copters to Saudi
The U.S. State Department announced on Wednesday thelargest weapons sale in the history of the United States: $60 billion worth of combat planes and helicopters to Saudi Arabia.
The Obama Administration has notified Congress of the plans for the 20-year deal. It is to include 84 F-15 fighter aircraft and over 170 helicopters, the upgrading of 70 older-model F-15 planes, and the sale of smaller air force items. The helicopter deal includes 70 Apaches, 72 Blackhawks, and 32 MH-6 Little Birds.
The announcement was made by Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for political and military affairs. He explained that the deal is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Saudi military relationship with the United States and allow the kingdom to better protect its security and oil structure, which "is critical to our economic interests."
Congress has 30 days to object to all or part of the deal. It is possible that Saudi Arabia will choose not to purchase the entire package.
Shapiro said that after assessing the sale’s impact on Israel’s military standing in the area and finding that it “would not diminish Israel's qualitative military edge… we felt comfortable in going forward with the sale.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued this statement: “Israel is pleased with its good security relations with the United States, and from the fact that the U.S. ensures Israel’s qualitative edge.”
CNN quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the Obama administration consulted with Israel as the sale was taking shape, and committed itself to maintaining that edge.