U.S., Saudi Arabia strike $30 billion arms deal

The Obama administration on Thursday announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia valued at nearly $30 billion, an agreement that will send 84 F-15 fighter jets and assorted weaponry to the kingdom.

The administration notified Congress last year of its intent to sell advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East and a strategic bulwark against Iran. The final agreement also includes the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training and maintenance.

“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 Joshua Earnest said in a statement.  Washington Post

Assistant Secretary Shapiro Briefing on Arms Deal:

Well, thank you everyone for coming this afternoon. And as Toria mentioned, I’m joined by Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Dr. Jim Miller.

As you may recall, in October 2010, I officially announced the Administration’s plan to sell to Saudi Arabia a significant defense package that would include advanced F-15 fighter aircraft and helicopters. We are pleased to announce that over this past weekend, the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a letter of offer and acceptance for the sale of up to 84 advanced F-15SA fighter aircraft. It also includes upgrades to its current fleet of 70 F-15 aircraft, as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance, and logistics.

This sale is worth $29.4 billion. These F-15SA aircraft, manufactured by the Boeing company, will be among the most sophisticated and capable aircraft in the world. This agreement serves to reinforce the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. It demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.

Since announcing in June – in 2010 our intent to conclude this sale, the Departments of State and Defense have worked closely with the Saudi Government and industry to finalize the particulars of the deal. Jim and I both recently made separate trips to Saudi Arabia, in part to discuss the sale.

Let me outline a few of the reasons why this defense package is so important and historic, and how it will advance U.S. national interests. This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East. It will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against external threats to its sovereignty. It will advance interoperability between the air forces of our two countries through joint training and exercises. And lastly, this agreement will positively impact the U.S. economy and further advance the President’s commitment to create jobs by increasing exports. According to industry experts, this agreement will support more than 50,000 American jobs. It will engage 600 suppliers in 44 states and provide $3.5 billion in annual economic impact to the U.S. economy. This will support jobs not only in the aerospace sector but also in our manufacturing base and support chain, which are all crucial for sustaining our national defense.

I also wanted to note that this sale was carefully assessed under the U.S. Government’s Conventional Arms Transfer Policy. This policy requires such sales be deemed in the national security interests of the United States, are consistent with the country’s legitimate security needs, and support U.S. regional security objectives. With this agreement, the United States and Saudi Arabia have accomplished a historic achievement in our longstanding security partnership, a partnership that furthers security and stability in the Gulf region. Our longstanding security relationship with Saudi Arabia and other partners in the region has been a primary pillar of regional security for decades. And this sale further illustrates the firm commitment of the United States to the security and stability of the Gulf region.

Jim Miller Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy  Briefing

Let me start by reiterating that the United States is firmly committed to the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as we have been for nearly seven decades, and that more broadly, the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong mutual interest in the security and stability of the Gulf. Close cooperation between our militaries is central to that security and stability, and we are really announcing today the most recent example of that cooperation.

On December 24th in Riyadh, the United States and Saudi Arabia finalized the letter of offer and acceptance, or LOA, for the purchase of 84 F-15SA aircraft and, as Andrew said, for the upgrade of an additional 70 F-15SA aircraft to this SA configuration. And this government-to-government or foreign military sale is valued at $29.4 billion.

I’d like to say just a few words about the capabilities that are under consideration. This aircraft, the F-15SA, will be the most capable and versatile aircraft in the Royal Saudi fighter inventory. And indeed, it will be one of the most capable aircraft in the world. The F-15SA will have the latest generation of computing power, radar technology, infrared censors, and electronic warfare systems. As one example, the F-15SA will be equipped with an active electronically-scanned array radar, or AESA. This radar includes the latest technology and will ensure that Saudi Arabia has the capability to operate against regional air threats. This sale also includes AMRAAM and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, which provide both radar and infrared guided capability. The F-15SA will be able to strike targets day or night in all weather with a variety of precision-guided munitions. The air-to-ground weapon capability includes laser-guided and GPS-guided weapons, along with missiles that can attack ground-based radars and missiles – the Harpoon in particular specialized for maritime attack capabilities.

The communications systems of the F-15SA will allow the U.S. Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force to operate effectively together in the same airspace. And the system’s interoperability will also allow both countries to – excuse me – to participate in coalition training, which is a priority for both of our countries. And in fact, this F-15SA package includes not just aircraft and munitions but the training and logistics support that Andrew talked about, and it’s a very robust package. Much of the Saudi training in the F-15SA will occur alongside U.S. forces. This will enhance our already strong defense relationship. And approximately 5,500 Saudi personnel will be trained through 2019 – 5,500 through 2019, further strengthening the bonds between our forces and between our countries.

I’ve provided just a very high-level overview of the F-15SA’s impressive capabilities, and I know that the Air Force and the Boeing company will be glad to offer a lot more details. As Andrew said, the U.S.-Saudi security relationship has been a pillar of regional security for decades. And this F-15SA sale demonstrates the firm commitment of the United States to the kingdom, and reinforces our mutual commitment to security and stability in the Gulf.


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Karl Gotthardt - Politisite Managing Editor Maj. Gotthardt is a Retired Military Officer with 35 years service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent most of his time in the Military in Infantry Battalions. Karl took part in training for Afghanistan as an Operator Analyst with the Canadian Maneouvre Training Centre. Karl is a qualified military parachutist and military free fall parachutist. He earned his U.S. Master Jump Wings in Fort Benning, Georgia. Karl enjoys working with horses for the last 24 year. He owns six. He has experience in breeding, training and of course riding.Karl was born in Germany and is fluent in both English and German and he speaks enough French to "get in trouble". Karl has written or writes at NowPublic, All Voices, Tek Journalism and many others.

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