ABC News' Luis Martinez reports:
In the largest arms sale of its kind, the United States is planning to sell Saudi Arabia $60 billion in sophisticated fighter aircraft and helicopters to counter what one Senior Defense Official characterized as the threat posed to the Middle East by Iran.
The Obama administration plans to notify Congress later this week that to sell up to $60 billion worth of F-15 aircraft and various types of helicopters, including Apaches and BlackHawks.
The deal does not include equipment for a naval modernization or a missile defense system the Saudis have wanted. The official says talks continue on those other systems and that though they will also be in the billions, the possibility exists they may also be worth tens of billions too.
The official says the main trigger for the deal is Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iran as the primary threat in the region.
The official congressional notification of this arms sale will occur later this week. Congress will have 30 days to voice any objections to the deal, but only if both houses pass a joint resolution in opposition to the deal.
The official downplayed possible concerns about what the arms deal might mean or Israel saying Israel already had most everything that Saudi Arabia was getting in the deal. One factor is that Israel is slated to buy the more advanced Joint Strike Fighter when that aircraft goes into production.
The deal includes:
–84 new F-15 aircraft and plans to upgrade 70 more.
–70 Apache attack helicopters
–72 Black Hawk helicopters
–36 Little Bird helicopters
–assorted weapons systems –missiles, bombs– for the aircraft
Boeing has said the deals could create 77,000 jobs, the Senior Defense Official says the term they’re using at the Pentagon is is “77,000 jobs involved” which means a mix of existing and new jobs.