U.S. $60 Billion Saudi Arms Sale Close to Congressional Notice

Congress may be notified as early as this week about a proposed U.S. weapons sale to Saudi Arabia of Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets and helicopters and choppers made by United Technologies Corp., a defense official said.

The previously disclosed arms package is believed to be the largest in U.S. history, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters today. Once the proposal has been formally submitted to the House and Senate foreign affairs committees, Congress has 30 days to reject the package.

The package includes 84 new F-15s and upgrades to 70 more in the Saudi inventory at a cost of $30 billion, and helicopter sales totaling about $30 billion that include spare parts, training simulators, long-term logistics support and some munitions. It also includes versions of Chicago-based Boeing’s satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, which the Saudis first bought in 2008.

The Saudis would buy about 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 70 AH-64D Longbow Apaches and 36 AH-6 Little Bird choppers, the official said. The Longbow is the U.S. Army’s premier anti-tank helicopter, capable of firing laser-guided or all-weather radar- guided air-to-ground Hellfire missiles. The Saudi package includes only laser-guided versions.

The Longbows are in addition to 12 that Congress in 2008 cleared Boeing to sell to the Saudis. The Longbow Apache has been sold to Egypt, Israel, Greece, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Singapore and Taiwan. Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. provide the Apache’s radar and sensors.

Saudi Arabia’s last significant U.S. weapons purchase was 72 F-15s in 1992, a transaction valued at as much as $9 billion. The last planes in that contract were delivered in November 1999.

The kingdom spent $36.7 billion worldwide on arms and support activities from 2001 to 2008, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

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