Sunday, April 21, 2013

Major Arms Deal in The Works Between The US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

A major arms deal is in the works between the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The total value of all contracts is estimated at around $10 billion.

The deal is expected to be the main topic of discussion when US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visits the three countries starting in April 21. The arms purchases are intended to strengthen the armed forces of US allies in the Middle East against potential threats in the region.

Exact details are yet to be determined, but may include the following:
  • Sale of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Israel. This would mark the first time the V-22 has been exported abroad.
  • Sale of KC-135 refuelling aircraft to the Israeli Air Force. Israel currently does not operate any.
  • Sale of 26 new F-16 fighter aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has already ordered 80 F-16 Block 60, the most advanced version of the F-16 currently available.
  • Possible sale to Saudi Arabia of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), the latest version of the High-Speed Anti-Radar Missile (HARM) for suppression of enemy air defenses.

Israel receives billions of dollars in military aid each year from the United States, which presumably will be used to pay for the arms purchases. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are major buyers of US weapons with major contracts signed in recent years.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia signed a $30 billion contract with the United States that included 84 Boeing F-15SA fighter jets, upgrade of 68 older F-15S to the SA standard, and 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The first F-15SA is expected to be delivered in 2013.

In 2011, the United Arab Emirates ordered the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) air defense system in a $3.49 billion deal to become the first country outside the United States to do so.

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