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U.S. plans $60B, 20-year arms deal with Saudi Arabia

From Adam Levine, CNN
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Massive US-Saudi arms deal announced
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Deal is worth up to $60 billion over 20 years, State Department spokesman says
  • Included in the deal are F-15s, helicopters, upgrades to older planes
  • Congress has 30 days to raise objections; Senate panel has been briefed
  • Israeli, U.S. sources say Israeli military edge in the region was considered
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Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration has notified Congress of plans for a multiyear, multibillion-dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.

The sale is meant to further align the Saudi military relationship with the United States and allow the kingdom to better protect its security and oil structure, which "is critical to our economic interests," said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for political and military affairs, at a State Department news conference.

The deal, worth up to $60 billion over 20 years, will include the sale of 84 F-15 fighter aircraft and almost 200 helicopters, and the upgrading of 70 older-model F-15s.

Congress has 30 days to raise any objections to the deal.

The deal also includes trainers, simulators, generators, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of program support, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon unit charged with executing the program and processing the transaction.

Some of the prime contractors involved are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Electric, according to DSCA Public Affairs Officer Charles Taylor.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee received a series of briefings on the proposed sale during a pre-notification process in which key issues were addressed.

Committee Communications Director Frederick Jones told CNN that "over the coming weeks, the committee looks forward to completing a thorough review of the proposed transaction, as it routinely does with all major arms sales."

A senior congressional staffer, who would not speak on the record because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, said the "sticky point" in Congress will be whether the Israelis maintain their military edge.

Shapiro said that an assessment of the impact on Israel's military advantage was conducted as part of the process.

"Our assessment is that this would not diminish Israel's qualitative military edge, and therefore, we felt comfortable in going forward with the sale," Shapiro said.

A senior Israeli official said that the Obama administration consulted with Israel as the sale was taking shape, and made a commitment that Israel would maintain that edge.

 
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