The Saudi royal family is reportedly being helped by the Obama Administration to push a $90bn deal with big players in the military-industrial complex for arms and military technology upgrades through political approval in Washington.


On top of a package that could be worth up to $30bn to upgrade the Saudi Navy, the Obama Administration is setting the stage to present a $60bn arms deal before the Congress between the Saudi royal family and the military-industrial complex of the U.S., Adam Entous reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal.

The “largest arms deal ever”, he added, will be politically sold “as a major job creator—supporting at least 75,000 jobs, according to company estimates—and sees the sale of advanced fighter jets and military helicopters to key Middle Eastern ally Riyadh as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran”.

Corporations on the profiting side of the deal include the usual suspects: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, etc.:

The $60 billion in fighter jets and helicopters is the top-line amount requested by the Saudis, even though the kingdom is likely to commit initially to buying only about half that amount.

In a notification to Congress, expected to be submitted this week or next, the administration will authorize the Saudis to buy as many as 84 new F-15 fighters, upgrade 70 more, and purchase three types of helicopters—70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds, officials said.

[…]Talks are also underway to expand Saudi Arabia’s ballistic-missile defenses. The U.S. is encouraging the Saudis to buy systems known as THAAD—Terminal High Altitude Defense—and to upgrade its Patriot missiles to reduce the threat from Iranian rockets. U.S. officials said it was unclear how much this package would be worth.

The U.S. has sought to build up missile defense across the region, and the Saudi package could be similar to one in the United Arab Emirates, officials said. THAAD is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. supplies the system’s radar. THAAD is the first system designed to defend against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere. It complements the lower-aimed Patriot missile defense system, providing a layered defense.

Lockheed officials have stated that they see serious export potential for the system in the Middle East, where a major concern exists about Iran’s ballistic missile development.

The prospect for job growth could help build support in Congress for the $60 billion package, officials said. “It’s a big economic sale for the U.S. and the argument is that it is better to create jobs here than in Europe,” said one person close to the talks.

Boeing Co., which makes the F-15s, the Apaches and the Little Birds, believes the Saudi package would directly or indirectly support 77,000 jobs across 44 states. It is unclear how many jobs, if any, would be supported by the Saudi purchase of Black Hawks, made by Sikorsky. Production levels are already high at Sikorsky, which is owned by United Technologies Co.

The Saudis in recent years have broadened their acquisitions to include more European- and Russian-made weaponry. That thinking was partially behind Riyadh’s 2007 deal to purchase dozens of Eurofighter fighter planes from BAE Systems PLC, Saudi officials said.

The deal has raised concern in Tel Aviv, where the Israeli government—Ha’aretz reported in August—is whining about first dibs, adding:

The two sides agreed that neither would surprise the other by agreeing to a military deal with a third party. A senior source in the U.S. administration told Haaretz the United States has promised Israel it would have priority access to any new weapons system and, in some cases, exclusive rights to buy new weapons systems, as opposed to Arab states.

More than two-thirds of the global arms sold in 2008 involved U.S. corporations, Congressional Research Service found in a report published earlier this year.

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