U.S. to sell fighter jets to Saudi Arabia

Dec. 30, 2011 at 11:23 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The United States has agreed to sell advanced fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia for $30 billion, a military official said.

The deal, announced Thursday, includes the sale of 84 new F-15 fighter jets and an upgrade of 70 existing aircraft, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The agreement was reached against a backdrop of escalating tensions and rhetoric between Iran and the United States.

"This agreement 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," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The White House also said the agreement would generate more than 50,000 manufacturing and supplier jobs in 44 states.

The F-15s are manufactured by Boeing Co. in St. Louis.

U.S. officials sought to reassure Israel the deal with Saudi Arabia would benefit Israel's security by strengthening allies in the region, the Journal said.

The fighter sale "will not have an impact on Israel's qualitative military edge," said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs.

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