The Defense Department plans to sell $60 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The armaments include helicopters, fighter jets, radar equipment and satellite-guided bombs, The Washington Post reports
. The deal would represent the largest U.S. arms sale to a foreign country ever.
The Pentagon presented its plan to Congress, which has 30 days to assess the sale. Then Defense officials and the weapons manufacturers can enter more thorough negotiations with the Saudis. Congress is likely to consider the package during its lame duck session after the elections.
The deal represents an important part of the U.S. effort to gain backing from its Arab allies and to repel Iran’s aggressiveness. It also would provide a boost to defense companies worried about cutbacks at the Pentagon.
"There's an enormous amount at stake in terms of U.S. foreign policy, credibility in the region, and the health of the aerospace industry," Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, told The Post.
"When you sell combat aircraft you're also selling a strategic relationship. It is a symbolic commitment to consult on common defense issues, and when you operate the same equipment, that often means joint training and an ongoing military relationship."
Some congressmen are questioning the plan, including Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. He says he will work to torpedo the sale, but that would require votes in both houses. And Congress has historically been able only to push changes on arms deals rather than shooting them down.
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