The Obama Administration signed an agreement to sell Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, an agreement proposed by Congress in 2010. Saudi Arabia, an important U.S. ally, has bought F-15's from the United States before, buying 72 in 1992.
In an emailed statement to Businessweek, John Earnest, the White House's deputy press secretary, said Valued at $29.4 billion, this agreement includes production of 84 new aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.
Saudi Arabia will receive the first of the new F-15's in 2015, and upgrades to their existing ones with begin a year earlier. In addition, 5,500 Saudi Arabian's will train with U.S. forces through 2019. Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said at a State Department briefing on the deal that the sale will help support jobs in the United States. The building of the F-15's will bolster 50,000 jobs in the country for at least a decade, and will aid 600 suppliers. In addition, he said that he expects the deal to bring in $3.5 billion annually.
Shapiro went on to say that the sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to security in the Gulf. And though the announcement comes shortly after Iran threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz, he denied the sale having anything to do with that.
We did not gin up a package in response to current events in the region, he said.
Saudi Arabia isn't the only Arab country that the United States is selling weapons to, however. Earlier this week, the country reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to sell them Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Thaad missile interceptors, a deal potentially worth $3.5 billion. In addition, they also agreed to sell the UAE 4,900 guided bombs, including 600 bunker-busters, earlier this month in a deal worth $304 million.
Boeing Chairman, Jim McNerney, said in a written statement that Boeing views Saudi Arabia as a market with great potential and has made it a priority to invest in Saudi Arabia's aviation industry.