x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

US to announce fighter jet sales deal with Saudi Arabia

The Obama administration is poised to announce the sale of nearly Dh110 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, US officials said.

WASHINGTON // The Obama administration is poised to announce the sale of nearly Dh110 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, US officials said.

The deal will send 84 new fighter jets and upgrades for 70 more, for a total of $29.4 billion (Dh107.9bn), according to the officials on Wednesday.

The agreement boosts the military strength of Saudi Arabia at a time when the Obama administration is looking to counter Iranian threats in the region.

About a year ago, the administration got the go-ahead from Congress for a 10-year, $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that included F-15s, helicopters and a broad array of missiles, bombs and delivery systems, as well as radar warning systems and night-vision goggles.

The plan initially raised concerns from pro-Israeli lawmakers, but US officials reassured Congress that Israel's military edge would not be undercut by the sale. Additionally, there is now broad agreement among Israel, GCC states and the West that Iran poses a significant and unpredictable threat.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter regional rivals. Tensions between them were further stoked earlier this year after the US accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in Washington.