Happy (post-shutdown) days are here again: Obama OKs missile sales

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States, ending its government shutdown, has
resumed arms sales to the Middle East.

The administration of President Barack Obama has approved billions of
dollars worth of weapons and munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates.

AGM-84H SLAM-ER missile.
AGM-84H missile.

The Defense Department notified Congress that the two Gulf Cooperation Council states requested more than $10 billion worth of advanced air-to-ground missiles and other munitions.

“The proposed sale of these weapon systems will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. The resumption of funding for the U.S. bureaucracy allows the weapons transfers to move forward.

The Pentagon agency said it notified Congress on Oct. 11 of the Saudi and UAE requests. DSCA said Riyad requested $6.8 billion worth of air-to-ground missiles, including the AGM-84H SLAM-ER, AGM-84L Harpoon and Small Diameter Bombs.

“This proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet
current and future regional threats,” DSCA said on Oct. 15. These munitions
will strengthen the effectiveness and interoperability of the air force of a
potential coalition partner, enhancing the coalition operation.”

Officials said the more than 1,000 missiles were expected to be deployed
on the new fleet of F-15SA fighter-jets sold to Saudi Arabia. In 2011, Riyad
ordered 84 new F-15s and a modernization of another 70 such aircraft by
Boeing.

DSCA said the UAE requested similar munitions worth $4 billion. The
munitions, including 1,200 AGM-154C Joint Stand-Off Weapons, were expected
to be installed on the UAE’s fleet of F-16 Block 60 multi-role fighters.

“This proposed sale will improve the UAE’s military readiness and
capabilities to meet current and future regional threats, reduce the
dependence on U.S. forces in the region, and enhance any coalition
operations the U.S. may undertake,” the agency said. “The UAE will have no
difficulty absorbing these munitions into its armed forces.”

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