Thursday, October 21, 2010

US announces $60bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, October 21, 2010:  Billed as America’s largest- ever arms deal  with a foreign country, US today announced its plans to sell up to USD 60 billion worth of aircraft, helicopters and other weapons to Saudi Arabia apparently aimed at sending a strong message to Iran.

The Obama Administration notified the US Congress of its plans to sell 84 F-15 aircraft, 70 upgrades of existing Saudi F-15s to a more advanced configuration, 70 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 AH-6i light attack helicopters, and 12 MD-530F light training helicopters.

“We have worked closely with the Saudi Government to identify their full requirements and believe the proposed packages, which include aircraft munitions, support, and training services are sufficient,” Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Andrew J Shapiro told reporters at a special news briefing.
He said the US was undertaking the sale because it supports its wider regional security goals in the Gulf by deepening its security relationship with a key partner.

Noting that the proposed sale has tremendous significance from a strategic regional perspective, the official said it will reinforce its longstanding security partnership with Saudi Arabia.

“It will send a strong message to countries in the region that we are committed to support the security of our key partners and allies in the Arabian Gulf and broader Middle East,” he said, in an apparent reference to Iran.

“It will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against threats to its borders and to its oil infrastructure, which is critical to our economic interests,” the official said.

Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow said the sale will enable Saudi Arabia to be more inter-operable with the United States and its partners in the region.

“By increasing our collective capabilities, not only will our partners be able to take on greater multilateral roles, but specifically the Department of Defense will be able to free up US forces in the region, maximizing the effectiveness of our global force posture,” he said.

Defending the decision, Shapiro said Saudi Arabia has got a number of threats in the region.

“We’ve worked together closely with them on counter-terrorism. It’s a dangerous neighborhood, as you know, and we want to ensure that they have the tools that they need to be able to defend themselves against all manner of threats in the region,” he said.

By KOL News

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