Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of plans to sell Saudi Arabia as much as $60 billion worth of arms in a deal aimed at bolstering regional defenses against an ascendant Iran.
The agreement, which will stretch out as long as 20 years, would be the largest U.S. arms sale ever, if Saudi Arabia buys all that has been authorized.
It would make the kingdom's aging jet fighter fleet among the most capable in the world, without adding so much long-distance attack capability as to worry Israle that the weapons could be used against it. Israeli officials have not objected to the sale.
Though a few congressional supporters of Israel have criticized the massive deal, U.S. officials predict Congress will approve the sale. Lawmakers have 30 days to object.
The deal will allow the Saudis to buy 84 new F-15 aircraft and to upgrade 70 more. It offers them 70 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 AH-61 light attack helicopters, as well as 12 MD-530F light training helicopters.
They also can buy a variety of missiles, bombs and other equipment, including night-vision goggles.
Andrew Shapiro, an assistant secretary of State, said the deal would "send a strong message to countries in the region that we are committed to support the security of our key partners and allies in the Arabian Gulf and broader Middle East. And it will enhance Saudi Arabia's ability to deter and defend against threats to its borders and to its oil infrastructure, which is critical to our economic interests."