US Eyes $30bn Saudi Arms Deal
The United States is working closely with Saudi Arabia on a possible arms sale worth close to $30 billion that includes 84 Boeing F-15 fighter jets and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, US government officials said.
The arms sale package, still subject to congressional approval, would include dozens of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, missile defense equipment and ships, they added.
'Those are all work in progress,' Navy Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, Director of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, told Reuters in an interview at the Farnborough Airshow this past week.
Wieringa, who oversees foreign arms sales, said he could not give any timetable for completion of the deal, given recent appointments of new air force and navy Chiefs in Saudi Arabia.
'They may have different defense visions and I need to be respectful of the new leaders,' said Wieringa, who is due to retire at the end of the month. 'It's important for us to work together.'
Boeing declined comment. No comment was immediately available from United Technologies. The arms sale would also likely include new coastal warships.
The US Navy is expected to pick the winning designs for the new warships in mid-August. Lockheed Martin Corp and the US unit of Australia's Austal are competing for the deal, valued at well over $5 billion.
Defense industry executives at Farnborough said they saw strong interest in US weapons from Gulf nations during this show.
Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer of US weapons during a 4-year span of 2005 through 2008, with $11.2 billion in deals, according to the US Congressional Research Service.