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Why Does Saudi Arabia Need $90 Billion in Weapons?

by christian on September 14, 2010

Seriously…

The Obama administration is seeking a go-ahead from Congress to sell up to $60 billion worth of sophisticated warplanes to Saudi Arabia and could add another $30 billion worth of naval arms in a deal designed to counter the rise of Iran as a regional power.

The deal would apparently represent the largest single U.S. arms sale ever approved. It would allow Saudi Arabia, the most militarily advanced of the Arab Gulf states and one of the richest countries in the world, to buy top-line U.S.-made helicopters and fighter jets with ranges that would span the Middle East and beyond.

Unlike some previous sales to Saudi Arabia, this one is not expected to be derailed by opposition in Congress or from U.S. backers of Israel, who have worried in the past about blunting Israel’s military edge over its Arab neighbors.

That’s more than half of the regular DoD procurement budget in 2010 and a number equal to the entire defense budget of the UK for this year (adjusted roughly to USD).

Iran is now seen by Israel, the Gulf Arab states and the West as a significant and unpredictable threat that has changed the old calculus of the region’s balance of power.

The U.S. is realigning its defense policies in the Gulf as Iran improves the range and accuracy of missiles and other weapons that could threaten Israel or U.S. allies in Europe. Besides the Saudi deal, the U.S. has pending or proposed arms sales to Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, and has repositioned some U.S. forces and military assets around the Gulf.

And the Pentagon is hinting the reason is to build a bulwark against Iran? Come on. If Iran strikes Saudi in any kind of conflict, it isn’t going to be by flying ragged out F-14s or second hand MiG-29s on a cross-country Kamikaze mission. It’s going to be from a suicide vest in a royal palace or a car bomb of Prince Bandar’s motorcade.

They’re going to need MRAPs not Apaches.

One wonders why the Saudis need the high-end, major-theater-war gear. Is it prestige? A bulwark against Israel? Something fun for the princes and their buddies to fly to Dubai in?

Or maybe it’s a nice pick-me-up for a defense industry that’s about to take a hit to the gut from a departing Gates.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick W September 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I imagine that it's rather more like Reagan's build up Part II. If the Iranians spend themselves bankrupt trying to counter the Saudi build up they will be just as throughly destroyed as if they had been invaded.

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Jacob September 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Iran isn't going to counter the Saudis conventionally….more likely they'll put their resources into asymmetrical capabilities like terrorism and propaganda war, as well as possibly a nuclear weapons program.

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Rick W September 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Terrorism would make a difference if there was a place for the terrorists to hide. Since the Saudis know that the terrorists are coming from Iran they can simply go in and trash the place. Not occupy, not reform, just flat burn it to the ground.

If you destroy Iran's oil production you destroy their only method of obtaining the massive amounts of money needed to fund terrorists and nuclear weapons programs.

The only way for Iran to counter that threat would be to build up a military that could stop the Sauds. Economics won't work for the Iranians in this case. The one nation on Earth that will most certainly NOT be hurt if the price of oil goes through the roof is Saudi Arabia.

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Icysquirrel September 15, 2010 at 11:05 am

The whole point of asymmetrical warfare is that you can do it on the cheap — you don't see either Iraq or Afghanistan placing major arms orders with anyone. On top of that, Iran is a major supporter of terrorism, yes, but it's not the only such supporter.

My question though would be: What would Iran stand to gain from attacking Saudi Arabia, via conventional or unconventional methods.

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Day September 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm

a good point, but i wouldn't assume the Iranians will base any future decisions on what seems logical, while i don't like to underestimate the opposition their past behavior has been erratic to say the least.

Rick W September 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Continued…

Another thing about asymmetric warfare, it only works when the other guy can't find or can't reach your base of operations.

In the meantime you can't go a month without the Iranians annoucing a new military exercise, missile launch or the developement of a new 'super weapon' (My favorite one so far is their propeller driven 'stealth plane'.) But all of those things must be not only free, but something they are not really doing because they are busy building up their asymmetric war capabilities cheap.

The Iranian's are full of noise and light about how they are the only ones on the side of God in the Islamic world, so all the rest of the Islamic world should be following them – or else. Maybe the Saudi's just don't like that.

Sven Ortmann September 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

A Saudi officer published a revealing article about one of their motorised infantry (=armoured car) brigades (or was it a regiment) years ago in Infantry or Armor Journal (don't remember which one).
He wrote quite frankly that it was a high mobility formation with the primary task of quelling internal unrest ASAP. Warfighting was secondary (hence the thinly armoured trucks).

The Saudi Navy has some practical uses, mostly protection of shipping.

The Saudi Air Force on the other hand is a kind of jockey club for Saudi princes. It's not completely useless (defeated Iraqis and Iranis in air combat), but no normal air fore either. It's a kind of "Thai aircraft carrier = royal yacht" issue.

Saudi arms imports and military expenditures are furthermore badly inflated by corruption; the per-unit prices are at times twice the normal, and a major reason for this are the bribes.
It's part of the national wealth distributions scheme (from king/state to princes to others).

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blight September 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I suspect the only nation to take seriously out of the bunch will be Jordan. Too bad they don't have oil dollars. Or maybe that's a good thing.

The Saudis will keep production lines open, but not for the "future force" stuff America is interested in.

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bozojoe September 15, 2010 at 1:49 am

I hear crickets chirping

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@Earlydawn September 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I'm not conceptually against this, but I worry about technology proliferation. Are there safeguards and oversight to make sure none of the avionics or radar technologies get anywhere?

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Tech September 15, 2010 at 11:03 am

The equipment is usually (perhaps always?) stripped down. I recall the US selling aircraft to a country with avionics/radar striped out.

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Robert A. Fritts September 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Israel purchaced the F-15Is with the avionics stripped out. This was because the Israelis feel their Avionics, ECM/ECCM, Fire Control Systems and other systems are superior for their environment. You do not need a American radar that can scan to 200-250Km if your country is less than 60Km across in most places and your "friendly neighbors" all have airbases within 100Km of your borders. The F-15Is weigh substantially less than US models, accelerates faster and has a greatly expanded flight envelope.

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Chops September 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

While the sale of these weapons systems will give the Saudis a strong offensive capability if needed the most important thing is to get a coalition of Middle East countries to stop Irans' nuclear program.Isreal will only put up with so much before they decide its' in their best interest to attack-then all bets are off for any kind of peaceful resolution to the problems posed by a nuclear Iran.

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Abdullah September 14, 2010 at 4:37 pm

The writer actually showed lack of knowledge about the situation in the area, the historical unfriendly relations between those countries. And also it lacks respect by by being sarcastic about the royal family for no reason and without knowledge to back that up. Iran has a well advanced war machine, a country with over 70 million people (compared to saudi’s 19 m), is a hostile country, and they just ignited a war in the border between Yemen and Saudi. Actually, Saudis would be so stupid if they don’t do everything to protect themselves. Saudi Arabia never started any war throughout its history. And no one in that area talks about sucied bombers, we’re talking a full scale attack that is not impossible with the crazy people running Iran. They talk **** about the US and Israel but in reality they attack their neighbors. At one point Kuwaiti oil ships put the american flags so that they don’t get attacked by the Iranies! saudi is one of the biggest countries in the world with large borders with unstable countries. On top of all, the amount mentioned is wrong, as stated everywhere it is 30 M as of now with the possibility to go up to 60. Iran is distorting the Gulf Countries from all their economical plans by forcing them to spend on military. 

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STemplar September 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm

It does say it is an option, not a fixed sale. Basically gives the admin room to sell that much but doesn't mean the Saudis will buy it all. Probably a good indication that at least behind the scenes they are less and less optimistic about how things will play out with Iran.

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Marvel September 14, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I have a question that hopefully one of you can answer. Some reports say that the F-15s will have certain "limits," no "long-range weapons systems" and one news report, I forget which, said that the electronics were configured so that Saudi F-15s could not fight Israeli aircraft. Now this sounds like bull. It seems like the only thing they could really limit is the radar package, right?

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Chops September 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

The Isrealis want a limit on long range weapons and they were talking about getting a limit on the radar but I don't know what happened on that point.

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blight September 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm

The primary source is the WSJ, link here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704

"In a notification to Congress, expected to be submitted this week or next, the administration will authorize the Saudis to buy as many as 84 new F-15 fighters, upgrade 70 more, and purchase three types of helicopters—70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds, officials said.

[...]

U.S. officials are discussing a potential $30 billion package to upgrade Saudi Arabia's naval forces. An official described these as "discreet, bilateral conversations" in which no agreement has yet been reached. That deal could include littoral combat ships, surface vessels intended for operations close to shore, the official said.

Talks are also underway to expand Saudi Arabia's ballistic-missile defenses. The U.S. is encouraging the Saudis to buy systems known as THAAD—Terminal High Altitude Defense—and to upgrade its Patriot missiles to reduce the threat from Iranian rockets. U.S. officials said it was unclear how much this package would be worth." ~WSJ

If anything, they need ECHELON support to go eavesdrop on phonecalls that concern the al-Sauds. Maybe they should furnish security-cleared, background-checked Arab translators so we don't have conversation backlogs ever again, and the Sauds won't have to worry about being deposed, just as they deposed the Hashemites.

I see no air refuelling or AWACS in that list, so maybe the Iran strike mission isn't the idea. So the buy is purely defense, or they'll try and "make it work", and discover it won't without unglamorous air refuelling and JSTARS support…

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Wildcard September 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Limits on long range weapons for the F15… well Saudi's have been upgrading their Tornado GR4's to carry Storm Shadow cruise missiles (since 2005)… Storm Shadow is also cleared for the 72 Typhoon aircraft.

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Byron Skinner September 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Good Evening Folks,

Who ever wrote the article (Greg Grant?) hit most of the buttons. The last thing the US should be doing is selling weapons into the tender box of the middle east. With a $3 trillion investment in Iraq, the last this we need if for Iraq to be sitting between a hostile and a well US armed Sunni Saudi Arabia and the politically unstable Iran.

The only saving grace to all this, is that to man these weapons the Saudis need men, women need not apply here, and the Saudi male is not prone to wanting to joining an expeditionary military. The only option for the Saudis will be foreign "contractors", is it only a coincidence that "Blackwater" is attempting to reestablish itself in the area?

Is the day far off when current Americans will be engaged in combat against former American service men?

ALLONS,

Byron Skinner

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David September 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Just remember people Israel has the final say on this. We must obey them. Not sure why though?

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Tim Adkison September 14, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Because Israel is the only real ally we have in the gulf and is our hitman when needed. Perhaps even when it comes to the Iranian nukes. Get it?

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Rob September 15, 2010 at 1:51 am

Isreal is a declared ally. Saudi arabia are economically linked to us but more considered to be a non-aligned country.

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Wildcard September 14, 2010 at 6:56 pm

IIRC this was resolved after Israel got the green light on the F35' purchase. Saudi was supposed to get what they wanted.
Again IIRC the bone of contention at the time was new AESA radars (APG 63 v3?), and a long range strike weapons capability? If there were to be limits imposed, then yes limiting the radar package (offering older gen radar) and the EW suite might take a hit also.

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Stephen Russell September 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I saw NO IF found to funding NYC Ground Zero Mosque center or aiding terrorisim alone.
Then NO.
Or boost Price for covering War costs or NYC Mosque.

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blight September 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm

That assumes that you can pin the Al-Sauds for every dollar that moves around the Middle East. Iran is not being funded by terrorists, they fund the Shia group Hezbollah and groups in Iran, and if they were as realpolitik as we were, they'd fund the Taliban too (no proof yet?)

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Tom_Beebe September 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm

So here's the scenario: iran attacks Israel and the Saudis do nothing with all their new toys. Then what, Barack ??

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Marvel September 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Haha what is Iran going to attack Israel with? And why?

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blight September 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Iran only has SSM's at best. But there's always Hezbollah, or provoking Islamic Jihad, Hamas etc.

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kyle September 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Israel wont tolerate an islamic jihad against them because theyre not being lead by obama and the liberals. they have no where else to go they have to stand and fight

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Tim Adkison September 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Iran will attack Israel with one man armed with a nuclear weapon. They will send him into Israel and he will scream "Alla Hu Akbar!" (or whatever), detonate the nuke and blow up half the damn country (literally). After that Iran will have plausible deny-ability because there will be no evidence they did it.

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Tim Adkison September 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm

As for the why…..because Alla says all infidels must die….

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Sam September 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Actually Tim, Iran could launch a pre-emptive attack (if they have the capability) against Israel because Israel is a threat to Iranian security.

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Chops September 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Regardless whether or not they could prove Iran did it, Isreal will turn Iran into a sheet of glass if they ever got nuked.You can only put up with a country [Iran] threatening to wipe you out for so long before you know who the guilty party is.

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Sam September 15, 2010 at 12:49 am

That's exactly why Iran may be developing a nuclear capability, to defend itself against Israel and keep it from murdering millions of Iranians.

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Chops September 15, 2010 at 1:15 am

Exactly the way things happened between the US and USSR -eventually both sides realized that it was never worth the trouble they went through with the constant one-upmanship.Hopefully all other nations will learn that also–and not the hard way.

greg September 15, 2010 at 8:14 am

You just contradicted your self. You just said that Iran should strike Israel for preemption. On the other hand you comment on this guys post and say if Iran Nukes Israel, then Iran has the right to defend itself. Its a stupid point. It's a biased point, You are so against Israel that you make no sense. This is from someone who doesn't blindly agree with all of Israelis policies. You though however do give me pause, and make me think that maybe they are right they should hit Iran. With logic as irresponsible as yours, If Iran Nukes Israel, its the Israelis fault.

Icysquirrel September 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

What sort of yield are you assuming here? Even if you detonated a 100KT charge in the middle of Tel Aviv, you'd still not be taking out half the country. A significant concentration of industry, sure. About 10% of the population, yes. But small though Israel is, it's not *that* small. And you can bet your ass that IDF checkpoints are already being equipped with Geiger counters.

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blight September 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Fallout and the possible collapse of society is worth more than point nuclear attacks. But yes, a single nuke won't bring a country to its knees unless the psychological component is just right.

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Rob September 14, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Saddam's military was a land buffer zone from iran/ russia. Now that we are leaving there is no large scale air or sea power besides our 'limited' presence.

Our shock and awe & their insurgency exposed to the world how weak borders are without military aircraft patrols.

Also if Iran and Isreal ever battle , Saudi's will need this airpower to guard it's border even moreso.

Am highly surprised the United States is not considering moving many bases to the mexican border. Not as a threat buildup but to increase defense in our weakest land borders during this wars of extremists, criminals & insurgents

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greg September 15, 2010 at 8:16 am

I agree, we should start more basing against the border.

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Oblat September 15, 2010 at 1:13 am

The Saudis are unlikely to buy everything, but the prospect is good enough to keep America quiet. Strategic investments in the US to keep us docile have been going on for a long time.
.
After all who knows when a bunch of Saudis will want to knock down another building in NYC.

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blight September 15, 2010 at 1:36 am

I don't see a trivial offering of aircraft to Saudi Arabia doing much to placate anybody when it comes to non-state actors from Saudi Arabia. The Al-Sauds care about Al Qaeda as much as they care about womens rights. Don't rock the boat, ignore the problem. Rock the boat, smite.

Americans are unusually paranoid about foreigners owning businesses here….look at CNOOC, for instance, or Dubai World Ports, where the latter is an Arab nation that's an ally (for the moment).

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@Earlydawn September 15, 2010 at 1:38 am

Yep, I'm sure they'll hit them with non-navalized F-15s that they launch off of their – oh, wait.

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STemplar September 15, 2010 at 4:18 am

Saudi Arabia cares about selling oil and that is pretty much it. So when Iran shoots its mouth off about war games and attacking the US in the Straits of Hormuz I'm not sure why this sort of a sale would be a surprise. I'm sure they would happily join the US in bombing Iran back to Hammurabi if they tried to block the straits.

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blight September 15, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hammurabi was from "The Land Between Two Rivers", and was not Persian.

If the Sauds were serious about a counter-Iran capability, there would be amphibious forces and "littoral ships". Or maybe they're not into the occupation business?

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STemplar September 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

I was referring more to time period rather than nationality.

They don't want to occupy, just sell oil. They would let the UN dither about over Iran's issues internally, just keep the oil flowing.

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Hugh September 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

Some earlier posts comment on the popular idea that israel is our only friend in the middle east. I see it a different way. Before alligning ourselves with israel we had no enemies in the middle east.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Because historically the Middle East was a British mandate?

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Brian September 15, 2010 at 10:34 am

Guys, this is business, pure and simple.

Saudi Arabia, while a place I certainly wouldn't want to live in, is effectively our ally. Their only source of wealth is oil. They know it, we know it. The Saudi leadership, the guys with the money and the military, don't want the infidels to be destroyed. They like us. So we sell them expensive toys.

Insurance against Iran? Eh. Parity against Israel? More likely. This is a case of keeping up with the Joneses. The US is playing the salesman in this deal. "It slices, it dices, it can even cut through this lead pipe without losing its razor sharp edge…" Do they need all this stuff? Probably not. And the chances of them actually using it in battle against Israel or Iran are next to nothing. But they aren't going to use it against us, either.

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Mastro September 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

I think its pretty clear that the Saudis buy this stuff 70% to please us- 30% because they need it.

They want to send some $$ back to the US- this is the best way to do it.

It also is a defacto way of buying our support.

I'm fine with it- Ive never heard of the Saudi's sharing Top Secret stuff with our enemies- heck- even the Brits do that (the secret Commie ones)

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Tech September 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

I agree, it's all about the money. Even if they buy half of the equipment, that's an additional $45bil that Obama & Co. can use for… something creative…? All jokes aside, someone will definitely be turning a profit out of this.

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Dirty September 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Because If we go bankrupt they can get our equipment before we go the way of the USSR

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Wild Bill September 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

ssshhhhh…. its all about jobs, jobs, jobs… If you say anymore everyone will know!

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blight September 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

You know, the real hedge against Iran would be to replace Maliki and train armored divisions with lots of rocket artillery…alternatively,some way to impose secularization like in Turkey, but it wouldn't be easy without a great deal of consensus.

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Drake1 September 16, 2010 at 2:14 am

Who cares what they need when they are paying.

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USAGradeAAACountry September 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Well dip**** … the Saudis are the same ******* who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers…they are the same ******* who are spreading radical islama**** throughout the world…they finance terrorists
the only thing that stops the US from going medieval on these islamofacists is oil and US debt
…I wonder if the same thought would have been applied to the Nazis…

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Locarno September 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

Countries on immediate land or facing sea borders include:
Iraq
Iran
Sudan
Somalia
Yemen

Frankly if they were in my list of immediate neighbours and I had more money than I knew what to do with, I'd consider some serious cannoning-up as well….

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Benjamin September 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

The 84 F-15s couldn't possibly exceed $15 billion, even with all
maintenance, training and weaponry costs thrown in.

Upgrading another 70 F-15s couldn't possibly exceed $4 billion – that's nearly $60 million a jet we're talking about.

The 70 Apaches couldn't possibly exceed $4 billion – that's more than $50 million per helicopter, even with all associated costs thrown in.

The 72 Blackhawks couldn't possibly exceed $3 billion – that's more than $40 million per helicopter, even with all associated costs thrown in.

The 36 Little Birds couldn't possibly exceed $2 billion – that's more than $50 million per helicopter, even with all associated costs thrown in.

Even at its most extravagant, the arms deal adds up to less than $30 billion, tops.

Where does the $60 billion price tag come from?

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Wild Bill September 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The difference between $60 billion and $30 billion??? Its called the juice… ha

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@Earlydawn September 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Yep, sounds like markup. As a U.S. taxpayer, I'm not complaining. Although, in fairness, it really seems like they would be better off buying Russian – politics DO talk.

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Robert A. Fritts September 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm

That 30 million is the DNCs zoning permit fee for the Ground Zero Mosque. It keeps the keeps Obama silent on the Mosque, loud againsts burning Korans, and still funding the National Endowment for the Arts $35 million a year to display crucifixes set in jars of feces and urine.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Probably a N-year service contract for support, training and the like. Maybe includes a contract from Bechtel to build new bases and such.

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blight September 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

That sounds like pretty painful markup. We should compare cost numbers to similar arms deals with Israel, South Korea, etc and find the markup…

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Joe September 17, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I looked at the shopping list. The BlackHawks alone will put many people on the payroll for a few years here in CT.

The sad truth is, the US must start to go to green energy, and purchase from Saudi will drop. The Saudi preferrred customer now goes to China, after going to only the US for decades.

The Saudi's could just as easy buy Chinese systems for some of their needs.

We should be grateful if this deal goes through.

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PolicyWonk September 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

It isn't surprising that the Saudi's want to bolster their arms forces, especially if you consider that the balance of power in the ME was badly disrupted by removing Saddam and putting Iran into the drivers seat in the region (they don't call it the Persian Gulf for nothing).

This has had the strangely beneficial effect of having the Saudi's (and others in the region) working the back channels with Isreal (they've been slowly toning down the rhetoric over the past several years) as many of them have determined that it isn't Isreal that is destabilizing the region (or otherwise openly causing trouble). That honor goes largely to Iran (and the US – who destabilzed the region in the first place).

The Isreali's really have little to fear from the Iranians despite all the noise/nonsense coming from the mullahs and their nutty president: Isreal has a highly survivable nuclear deterrant that would turn Iran into a sea of glass (and the Iranian government isn't stupid) with plenty let over to spare.

As long as people keep their cool – the Iranian people will likely take their goverment out for us.

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ka5s September 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Lots more… see http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/f22-squadron-

excerpt:
"…At the international date line, whoops, all systems dumped and when I say all systems, I mean all systems, their navigation, part of their communications, their fuel systems. They were—they could have been in real trouble. They were with their tankers. The tankers – they tried to reset their systems, couldn’t get them reset. The tankers brought them back to Hawaii. "

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ka5s September 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I wonder. How closely does the buy fit the OOB for a fast reaction force?

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9out September 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm

If the Saudis want a REAL plane, they better buy the FRENCH one… Much better plane than the US one.

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blight September 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Don't be sorry. It's a good post. I suspect your idea of prepositioning American equipment in the guise of a Saudi purchase is a good one, but that it will be dominantly true for American ground equipment. Our aircraft appear to be able to deploy much faster than the equipment needed for armor divisions.

A weapons buy sends a message that the Saudis may no longer be as weak as they were in the '90s; one of the sore points of GW1 was that the Middle Eastern nations couldn't even protect Mecca without outsiders. This buy proves that the Arab martial pride could be on the upswing.

It still doesn't address the possibility of an internal revolution. It would be up to their National Guard to prevent a coup from succeeding.

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roland September 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I think this is good for both countries (Saudi Arabia and USA), economically and on security.

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Monk September 22, 2010 at 8:38 am

Likely as a favor to the U.S., whose economy is wasting away.

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gun_lover75 September 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

To blow Iran up!

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mkmathews October 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Jobs! if we can't make them here at home by ourselves. Then we can ask the Saudis to GIVE us a few jobs for a 90 billion dollar donation. Got to keep the Prez looking good overseas now.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

We've been arming the Middle East for decades now. This goes past "the Prez".

This really does nothing for the unwashed unemployed masses, but it keeps the defense sector humming along at levels above barebones.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I doubt that equipment is meant to "fill out" an eventual American force, which would likely stage its own equipment somewhere in the Saudi desert instead of buying new Abrams. We had a twenty division army phased down to ten. We had lots of cold war era equipment that went idle, and it may or may not have been consumed by OEF/OIF.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm

They'll probably get some export radar system. Israel has the advantage to having Elbit around to put in new electronics. The Sauds do not.

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blight2 October 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm

If the Sauds were afraid of the Iranians, they might request TMD and attempt to build up their SSM capability, in addition to air forces that seem more suited to air power projection. But they're not. Do they anticipate internal unrest requiring military force to subjugate? Plus a small-ship navy oriented around keeping out minisubs, small boats and coastal presence-building?

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blight September 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Hardware doesn't stop the Al-Sauds from getting cozy with /anyone/. Just like hardware didn't keep the Iranian army from stopping the Islamic Revolution.

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Sam September 15, 2010 at 10:36 am

"You just said that Iran should strike Israel for preemption. On the other hand you comment on this guys post and say if Iran Nukes Israel, then Iran has the right to defend itself."

How exactly is that a contradiction? What exactly is wrong with being against Israel?

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Brian September 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I agree. Money and politics are intertwined. It's easy to take a principled stance and say "we should do this", but you really need to look at the consequences of your actions.

I'm not crazy about the Saudi Arabian style of leadership. They sit there, collecting billions of dollars for their private fortunes, while their people live in poverty. That poverty breeds resentment, and so the Saudi princes allow religious nutjobs to preach "Hate America" 24/7 to divert their anger towards us instead of their own rulers.

But what do you do about it? There's not an easy solution. It seems to be better to support a relatively friendly government and keep the status quo than it is to risk the nutjobs taking over.

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Icysquirrel September 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Holy righteous sarcasm, Batman! Are you always like this, or did someone pee in your wheaties yesterday?

Now as to your actual point, if that's what you call it, please feel free to point to the stockpiles of large naval vessels Iraqi insurgents are operating, and the modern jet fighter wings flown by the Taliban.

If you aren't able to comprehend the difference between RPGs and F-15s, well… You've got bigger issues than can be addressed here.

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