The Obama administration will soon notify Congress of an arms sale to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion, US officials said on Monday, a potentially record-breaking deal that may help counter Iran's growing regional muscle.A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected the Saudis to initially commit to $30 billion to upgrade their fleet of aircraft, but that could double. Still, the final figure was unclear.
'At this point, we can't estimate how much of that $60 billion (the Saudis) will make it to, but in any world this is an enormous arms package,' another US official said.
The deal will be a major boost to Boeing Co, which is expected to supply the Saudis with 84 new F-15 fighter jets and upgrade another 70 of them. It also included 70 of Boeing's Apache attack helicopters and 36 of its AH-6M Little Birds.
Saudi Arabia would buy 72 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
A US defense official said he did not expect much pushback from lawmakers, who have 30 days to object to the deal following formal notification, expected this week or next. Congress is aware of the need to bolster allies in the face of the Iranian threat, he said.
'I think that if you look at the kingdom, the major threat that they face emanates from Iran and this gives them a whole host of defensive capabilities to defend the Kingdom.'
Israel is also 'fairly comfortable' its qualitative military edge would not be jeopardized by the Saudi package, the official added, speaking on condition he not be named.