Saudi arms deal, largest ever, in pipeline

Sept. 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The White House may ask Congress to consider a $60 billion aircraft deal with Saudi Arabia, sometime this week, officials told The Wall Street Journal.

About half of the $60 billion would be included in a first round of contracts while Saudi Arabia contemplates its next move, officials said. Beyond that, officials are also discussing an additional $30 billion in deals to supply Saudi Arabia with upgrades for its navy, the Journal reported.

The contracts, which require Congressional approval, will likely include orders for 84 F-15 fighter jets and 178 helicopters, including 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds.

The jet fighters will not include long-range missile systems, which would allow Israel to maintain a military advantage.

"We appreciate the administration's efforts to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge," Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said.

In addition, the United States is negotiating with Saudi Arabia on purchases of a Terminal High Altitude Defense system known as THAAD, which defends against intermediate-range attacks that originate from space or from within the earth's atmosphere.

The Obama administration is expected to tout jobs as well as Middle East stability as justification for the sale.

Boeing Co. has said the contracts could support 77,000 jobs for as many as 10 years at Boeing alone, the Journal said.

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