The Obama administration announced that it has completed a deal where the U.S. will send $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.
The deal will send 84 new F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia, along with upgrades for 70 additional jets for $29.4 billion, according to The Associated Press. According to the White House, the fighter jets will be manufactured by Boeing and will sustain over 50,000 American jobs.
The sale of the fighter jets is part of a larger 10-year, $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal also includes helicopters, a variety of missiles, bombs and delivery systems. Radar warning systems and night-vision goggles will be included as well.
The deal will strengthen the military of Saudi Arabia, a vital U.S. ally in the Middle East to help counter Iran.
Saudi Arabia, which already has the most advanced military of the Arab Gulf states, is vital to U.S. energy security. The country ranks as the world’s third largest source of U.S. oil and is one of the richest countries in the world. It is central to American policy in the Middle East and their bitter rivalry with Iran works in favor of the U.S.
Iran has recently threatened to disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. continues with sanctions targeting Iran’s crude oil exports. The Strait of Hormuz is a key oil transport route in the Persian Gulf.
There was an emphasis on completing the deal that would empower Saudi Arabia in response to Iran’s recent threats. There is also an agreement among Western powers, Israel and the Arab states that Iran poses a significant and unpredictable threat, reported AP.
The Israelis initially feared that the agreement with Saudi Arabia would undermine Israel’s military edge. However, U.S. officials have assured them that this was not the case.
The announcement was made from Hawaii by White House officials, where President Barack Obama is currently on vacation.