F‑15 Sale to Saudi Arabia Part of Broader Effort

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2011 — The recent­ly announced $29.4 bil­lion sale of F‑15SA fight­er air­craft to Sau­di Ara­bia is just one part of a broad­er U.S.-Saudi mil­i­tary sales and defense coop­er­a­tion effort that’s cen­tral to region­al secu­ri­ty, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said.

U.S. offi­cials announced an agree­ment Dec. 29 to sell 84 new F‑15 fight­er jets and upgrades for 70 exist­ing air­craft to Sau­di Ara­bia. Lit­tle said the same rep­re­sents less than half of the $60.5 bil­lion in U.S. sales of avi­a­tion capa­bil­i­ties agreed by the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia.

In addi­tion to the Roy­al Sau­di Air Force, this broad­er pro­gram includes avi­a­tion capa­bil­i­ties for the Sau­di Ara­bi­an Nation­al Guard, Roy­al Sau­di Land Forces and Sau­di Roy­al Guard, he said.

“More broad­ly, the U.S.-Saudi mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary alliance is a cen­tral fea­ture of region­al secu­ri­ty,” he said.

Lit­tle not­ed the U.S. Mil­i­tary Train­ing Mis­sion in Sau­di Ara­bia, which was estab­lished in 1953 and remains a cor­ner­stone of the U.S.-Saudi mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship. U.S. and Sau­di defense depart­ments coop­er­ate reg­u­lar­ly at the high­est lev­els, through estab­lished bilat­er­al plan­ning forums like the Strate­gic Joint Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and the Mil­i­tary Joint Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, he said.

In addi­tion, the Roy­al Sau­di Air Force trains with the U.S. Air Force in rig­or­ous exer­cis­es that improve mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion and inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, and that facil­i­tate the exchange of ideas, Lit­tle said. Among them is Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force’s pre­mier air-to-air com­bat train­ing exer­cise, con­duct­ed in Neva­da. Red Flag gives pilots the expe­ri­ence of mul­ti­ple, inten­sive air com­bat sor­ties from with­in the safe­ty of a train­ing envi­ron­ment.

In announc­ing the F‑15 sales agree­ment Dec. 29, James N. Miller, prin­ci­pal deputy under sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, and Andrew Shapiro, assis­tant sec­re­tary of state for polit­i­cal-mil­i­tary affairs, empha­sized the close mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties between the Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia.

“The Unit­ed States is firm­ly com­mit­ted to the secu­ri­ty of the King­dom of Sau­di Ara­bia, as we have been for near­ly sev­en decades, and … more broad­ly, the Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia have a strong mutu­al inter­est in the secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty of the Gulf,” Miller said.

The F‑15s Sau­di Ara­bia will receive under the agree­ment “will have the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of com­put­ing pow­er, radar tech­nol­o­gy, infrared sen­sors and elec­tron­ic war­fare sys­tems,” he added.

“This agree­ment rein­forces the strong and endur­ing rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia,” Shapiro said. “It demon­strates the U.S. com­mit­ment to a strong Sau­di defense capa­bil­i­ty as a key com­po­nent to region­al secu­ri­ty.”

State and DOD have worked to con­clude the agree­ment since June 2010, Shapiro added.

The White House released a state­ment Dec. 29 detail­ing the full For­eign Mil­i­tary Sales pro­gram agree­ment, which also will pro­vide muni­tions, spare parts, train­ing, main­te­nance and logis­tics sup­port for the F‑15s to the Roy­al Sau­di Air Force.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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