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U.S. to sell record $10 billion in advanced weaponry to Israel, Saudi, UAE

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has
approved the sale of at least $10 billion worth of weapons to the Middle
East.

Officials said the administration briefed Congress on the sale of
fighter-jets, missiles, radars and other major military platforms to U.S.
allies in the Middle East. They identified the recipients as Israel, Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. has approved the sale of V-22 vertical-lift aircraft to Israel.

The U.S. has approved the sale of V-22 vertical-lift aircraft to Israel.

“This is more advanced weaponry than we’ve sold before,” a senior
Defense Department official said.

Officials said the arms deals would be announced during or after the
tour by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Middle East. Hagel is
scheduled to visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In
Jordan, Hagel is also expected to propose the deployment of a PAC-3 missile defense battery near the border with Syria.

“There is a need for us to reassure our allies in the region who were
concerned over U.S. diplomacy with Iran and the prospect of some sort of
agreement,” the official said.

For Israel, the administration approved air-to-ground anti-radiation
missiles, radars, KC-135 air tankers and the V-22 vertical-lift aircraft. Officials said this would mark the first foreign sale of Osprey, deployed by the U.S. Marine Corps and long sought by the Israel Air Force. They said Washington rebuffed
previous Israeli requests for the KC-135.

“This year, the United States provided $3.1 billion in foreign military
financing to Israel, the highest the United States has ever provided,” the
official said in a Pentagon briefing on April 19.

Officials said Washington has already relayed its approval for a $4.25
billion fighter-jet deal with the UAE. They said Abu Dhabi could buy up to
25 F-16 Block 60 multi-role fighter-jets, a variant sold to no other
country, as well as long-range air-to-ground missiles.

“As part of these sales, the United States is agreeing to deploy
standoff weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.,” the official said.

Officials acknowledged Israeli concern over the sale of the missile and
whether it could be exported to adversaries in the Middle East. They said
the administration pledged to track the U.S. missiles in both Gulf
Cooperation Council states.

“A key part of the agreement is that we believe, and the Israelis
believe, that [providing] these capabilities in no way diminishes Israel’s
qualitative military edge, but are consistent with [the need to] commonly
address threats in the region,” the official said. “There will be enhanced
end-use monitoring consistent with what we provide with sensitive technology
to our other allies and partners around the region and there will be
consultations prior to any of the weapons’ deployment.”

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