A proposed $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, one of the largest-ever U.S. weapons sales, marks the consolidation of America as the kingdom's main arms supplier after years of strain following the inside job of 9/11....and the various Saudi Patsies.....
The deal, which includes Boeing F-15SA Strike Eagle fighters, also underlines Riyadh's determination to confront the threat it perceives from Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival for regional supremacy and leadership of the Muslim world.
The Pentagon advised the U.S. Congress of the proposed multi-layered deal, which is expected to win approval in September.
That's because the administration of President Barack Obama, committed to ensuring that its ally Israel retains its long-held qualitative military edge in the region, has assured Israeli leaders the Saudis won't receive cutting-edge technology, particularly long-range missiles.
Significantly, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, has raised no public objections to the proposed deal with Riyadh. If that remains the case, pro-Israeli lawmakers will likely wave the deal through Congress.....
There are other considerations. Saudi Arabia and Israel have found themselves linked by their deep fears of a nuclear-armed Iran.....
This hardly makes allies out of these longtime foes. But, in a changing world, the Israelis appreciate that the more able Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Arab states are stand up to Iran, and support U.S. forces in the region, the better off they will all be.
Word of the massive arms deal was first reported Aug. 13 in Washington. "Contacts for the deal were conducted secretly due to Saudi sensitivity," said Israeli analyst Yiftah Shapir of the Institute for National Security Studies.
"At the same time, however, there were hints that the deal would not include equipment items that could arouse serious opposition on the part of Israel, such as long-range precision-guided air-to-surface missiles."
Whether arming the Saudis with advanced weaponry to stand up to Iran will help U.S. leaders convince Israel not mount threatened pre-emptive strikes against the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities isn't clear.
It will take several years for the Saudis to receive and absorb the new weapons systems, and that may be longer than the Israelis will accept.
But, as Shapir notes, while "the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait preferred investing most of their money in defensive equipment (mainly air-defense and anti-ballistic missile defense systems), the Saudi deal is for aerial attack equipment (fighter jets and assault helicopters)."
The planned U.S. sales to Riyadh are expected to fall into four phases over the next 10 years.
The first involves 84 F-15SA -- the "SA" stands for "Saudi Advanced" -- strike aircraft configured to Saudi specifications to replace its aging F-15C/D air-defense variants acquired in 1978-92, plus upgrades for 70 F-15S strike jets already in service.
The second embraces an expected 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, the U.S. Army's main anti-tank helicopter manufactured by United Technologies Corp. that will augment the 22 the Saudi air force already operates.
This package also includes up to 60 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, plus possible upgrades for the 12 AH-65As Congress cleared for Riyadh in 2008. The helicopter sales would total some $30 billion.
The third phase comprises advanced, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels worth up to $5 billion. The fourth segment consists of upgrades for the 96 Raytheon-built Patriot Advanced capability 2 missiles already in Saudi hands.
Jane's Defense Weekly reported that life-cycle maintenance and upgrades could eventually double the $60 billion value of the deal.
Aviation Week reported that a major sticking point in the deal was Riyadh's demand the new F-15SAs carry the long-range Raytheon AESA radars, such as the APG-63(v)3 on upgraded U.S. Air Force and Singapore air force models.
The magazine said these could nearly triple the sensor's range for detecting small targets, such as fighter-sized aircraft, from the current 56 miles to about 150 miles.
"More importantly, AESA radars Â… can find and target small moving ground targets at long ranges so they can be struck with standoff weapons beyond the range of anti-aircraft weapons," Aviation Week reported.
"The combination of a large AESA radar and a powerful new air-to-air weapons would help match the Middle East's growing short-range missile proliferation problem and help contain a nuclear weapons threat from Iran that worries planners in the region."
....This is from an unpublished (unclassified) American government study of the subject. It states: "An actual Israeli support of the Saudi-Imamate causes probably began prior to any direct meetings between representatives of the two governments and the Yemeni Royalist movement...This study has been able to trace at least two locations of direct Saudi-Israeli meetings which began at two distinct phases in the Yemeni civil war. The first traceable set of meetings began in March of 1963 in India. Indian sources reported that an official of the Saudi Embassy in India, Ahmad Allalah Al-Qadi, began frequenting the Israeli consulate in Bombay. According to Arab (Egyptian) sources, Crown Prince Faisal ordered the Saudi official's meetings in reaction to the two Arab nationalist coups in Baghdad and Damascus in February and March 1963 that removed anti-Nasser governments from power in each state...The focus of the Israeli-Saudi talks were the prospects for Israel dropping arms for the Royalist tribal forces as well as Israel providing military intelligence regarding Egyptian army movements and capabilities to both the Saudis and Yemenis. Israeli and Yemeni representatives met directly, either upon their own initiative, or under Saudi auspices, during this period. An Imamate delegate visited Israel in March 1963 at the same time that the Saudi embassy official began visiting the Israeli consulate in Bombay...However, other Israeli sources disclosed that unmarked Israeli planes made over a dozen and perhaps as many as twenty flights from Djibouti to drop arms over Royalist areas in late 1962 and most of 1963. The second confirmed set of Saudi-Israeli meetings occurred in Europe and began in 1965. In a highly unusual manner, former Israeli ambassador to Great Britain (1965-1970) Aharon Remez, made mention of his, and other high Israeli officials, continuous contacts with "Arab leaders from Saudi Arabia and Jordan" in a 1983 newspaper interview. In neither the original Kol Ha'ir (August 12, 1983) newspaper article nor subsequent interview did the former ambassador reveal the contents of the meetings, except to say that "not much came out of these, but they were very eye opening." In all subsequent interviews Remez stated that he feared that it was still early early to talk about the meetings. However, other (military) sources, claim that AMAN, the Saudi Defense Ministry and the security branches of Iran, including SAVAK as well as the Iranian Ministry of Defense, were in constant contact with one another even following the Israeli victory in June 1967. One source asserts that Moshe Dayan was the key intermediary with the Saudi defense establishment who soon shifted their focus of concern toward other areas of the Arabian Peninsula, such as the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen..." (pp. 23-25 from the unpublished, unclassified secret US government study).