Silver Lining

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US arms deal gathers “Israel”, UAE, KSA in face of Iran


The New York Times US daily reported Friday that the US War Department is expected to finalize a $10 billion common arms deal with “Israel”, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week.

According to the daily, “the deal will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran.”

This comes as a weeklong visit to the region by US War Secretary Chuck Hagel will culminate a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010.

“While one goal was to ensure that “Israel” continues to field the most capable armed forces in the region to deter Iran and counter a range of threats, it was equally important to improve the capabilities of two important Arab military partners,” the report said.

“Another challenge,” senior US administration officials said, “was coming up with a package that could help “Israel” deal with various security challenges – but devised so it would not be viewed as an American endorsement of accelerated planning by “Israel” to strike alone at nuclear Iranian facilities.”

In this context, one senior administration official claimed, “the goal was not just to boost “Israel’s” capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat – and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”

To the US official, “other security risks, include the roiling war in Syria – a country with chemical weapons- and militant violence in the Sinai Peninsula.”

Under the agreement, all sides would be allowed to purchase advanced armaments from American contractors. In the case of “Israel”, there is also substantial American financial assistance, topping $3 billion in military aid this fiscal year.

“Israel” would buy new missiles designed to take out an adversary’s air radars, as well as advanced radars for its own warplanes, new refueling tanker planes and – in the first sale to any foreign military – the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft. The United Arab Emirates would buy 26 F-16 warplanes, a package that could reach $5 billion alone, along with precision missiles that could be launched from those jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia would buy the same class of advanced missile.

The expectation is that the arms sale, which was outlined to Congress on Thursday, will encounter little opposition from lawmakers, especially from members representing the many districts where military contractors are concerned about the impact of cutbacks in the Pentagon’s own weapons budget.

But Congressional officials said members were seeking assurances that the package was in keeping with American policy to guarantee “Israel’s” “qualitative military edge”.

Under the terms of the deal, “Israel” would be allowed to buy the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, an aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but fly with the speeds and range of an airplane. “Israel” could use the Osprey for patrolling its borders, coastline and out to sea, and for moving troops to troubled areas.

A new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes would let “Israel’s” warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission – like a strike by Iran. The tankers would also be useful for air patrols.

“Israel” also would receive anti-radiation missiles. New, advanced radars for “Israel’s” military jets also would be in the package.

US Administration officials declined to identify the new missile to be sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, except to say that it is an advanced class of precision “standoff munitions” – those designed to be launched from warplanes safely distant from ground targets.

The missile, one senior official claimed, is to “address the threat posed by Iran.”


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