Saudi Arabia plans to buy 84 new F-15s along with some 72 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, defense officials tell Bloomberg. Navy Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), said Congress will be notified of the sale in the next couple of months.
We reported on the pending sale last September; Boeing reps told us then that the sale would most likely be the F-15SG configuration, an advanced version of the F-15E fitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and a third generation Lockheed Martin SNIPER targeting pod.
Pentagon sources told us the sale had been held up at the State Department by concerns over maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) over its Arab neighbors. The Obama administration wants to sell advanced military hardware to the Saudis to counter Iran’s growing power. Since U.S. military aid to Israel is specifically intended to maintain that QME, and since the U.S. is also such a large supplier to the Saudis, it’s always a political dance when making sales to either countries.