The US has approved a sale of $20 billion fighter jets by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.
The potential sales include 72 Boeing F-15 jets to Qatar and 32 F/A-18 E/F fighters to Kuwait. Lockheed would be able to sell as many as 19 of its F-16s to Bahrain.
The sale of fighter jets was long-stalled due to Israeli government’s influence, Gulf News reported today.
A notification sent to the House and Senate foreign affairs committees on Wednesday begins an initial review that could last as long as 40 days, an official said. That notice will trigger an official 30-day review.
The aircraft sales will deliver on pledges by President Barack Obama and the Pentagon to strengthen the weaponry of US allies in the Middle East. The allies were uncomfortable after the US agreed to a deal with their regional rival, Iran, to ease international economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
Qatar lodged its proposal in July 2013, and Kuwait made its request in April 2015. Bahrain’s is more recent.
The aircraft sales could be valued at as much as $12 billion for the planes, and $20 billion if spare parts, logistical support and munitions are included, Richard Abu Lafia, an aerospace analyst for the Teal Group in USA said. The sales would help keep open assembly lines for older planes, such as the one in St. Louis where Boeing builds the F-15, as US purchases shift to Lockheed’s new F-35, he added.