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Wednesday, April 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. military sales to Middle East seen booming despite increased scrutiny

WASHINGTON — Despite restricting arms sales to some Middle East countries amid the Arab revolt, the United States is expecting increased revenue from military sales in 2011.


Defense Security Cooperation Agency deputy director Richard Genaille said military sales could surpass the current forecast of $46 billion. In 2010, U.S. defense exports reached nearly $38 billion.

"This fiscal year is forecast to be higher than ever — higher than $46 billion," Genaille said.

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The administration of President Barack Obama said it would continue to process a $60 billion arms project with Saudi Arabia, which would include more than 200 fighter-jets and helicopters. Major arms sales to the United Arab Emirates were also not affected.

The United States has been the biggest supplier to the Gulf Cooperation Council and the rest of the Middle East.

Officials said the administration has intensified an examination of military procurement requests by Middle East countries. They said the examination by the Defense Department and State Department would focus on whether U.S. weapons would be used against civilians.

"They are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis," Genaille said.

In an address on April 11, Genaille did not cite specific arms requests that would come under U.S. review. Until the ouster of their regimes, the United States had been the leading supplier to Egypt and Tunisia.

Speaking to the Navy League, Genaille said the Middle East has sought to procure a range of U.S. platforms. He cited the C-130J air transport, C-17 strategic transport as well as missile defense and intelligence systems.

"These are new areas where we can expect to see growth over time," Genaille said.

Genaille said the administration has approved the sale of 85 F-15E fighter-jets to Saudi Arabia, worth $29.4 billion, as well as the sale of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system to the UAE. The THAAD deal was set at $7 billion.

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