The Obama administration is seeking to sell Saudi Arabia advanced aircraft worth up to $60 billion in what Pentagon officials say would be the largest-ever single foreign arms deal. A senior Defense Department official said the administration is prepared to authorize the sale to the Saudis of as many as 84 new F-15 fighter jets and three types of helicopters: 70 upgraded F-15s, 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds.And here are excerpts from some insightful commentary at Al Jazeera:
"This gives [the Saudis] a whole host of defense capabilities to defend the kingdom," said the official...
According to the military, Boeing - maker of the F-15, the Apaches and the Little Birds - has estimated that the purchase would involve 77,000 direct and indirect jobs in 44 states. Some of those would be jobs that would be kept, but an unspecified number of new jobs would also be generated, officials said...
Defense industry analysts said the sale of the aircraft is a key to U.S. efforts to boost support from Arab allies against Iran.
Ignoring the fact that miltary aircraft (which form the bulk of the deal as we know it) are prettty much useless against a nuclear missile, especially one that does not exist, $60bn buys a mind boggling amount of firepower, so that must mean that Saudi Arabia's military capacity right now is woefully insufficent compared to Iran's, right?Then this, from The Guardian:
Saudi military spending already dwarfs Iran's by a factor of six. Indeed, by head of population, Saudi is the world's biggest purchaser of military hardware.
Global Firepower has a direct comparison of the two nations' military strengths, and it turns out that Iran's military is only superior in terms of manpower numbers...
But when it comes to "air-based weapons", Global Firepower puts the relative numbers (before this deal) at Saudi 453, Iran 84. (Bear in mind also that Iran's aircraft are widely described as museum pieces by military analysts, because the sanctions mean that Iran has no access to spare parts or modern technology).
So why does Saudi need 84 new F-15 fighter jets, 70 upgraded F-15s, 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 "Little Birds", just to fight a land army?
And when you consider the reality that Saudi has the full support of all the US military bases in the region, the suggestion that Riyadh has something to fear from Tehran is laughable...
... then what is really going on? Well, with America suffering it's worst recession in 60 years, the biggest arms contract ever signed would certainly be a welcome boost to earnings in the military industrial sector.
While Israel sees Saudi Arabia as a useful buttress against Iran, there is a fear in Tel Aviv that a rogue Saudi pilot might opt for a suicide mission against Israel. The Israeli air force want to maintain an advantage.So I agree with the Al Jazeera columnist:
So Washington will probably be announcing another big arms sale soon, this time to Israel.I am so f**king fed up with seeing the world economy running on the basis of arms sales.