“I am pleased to announce a renewed commitment to the security of our key strategic partners in the region. To support our continued diplomatic engagement in the region, we are forging new assistance agreements with the Gulf States, Israel, and Egypt.. ..This effort will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaeda.. ..Through our Gulf Security Dialogue, we are helping to strengthen the defensive capabilities of our partners, and we plan to initiate discussions with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States on a proposed package of military technologies that will help support their ability to secure peace and stability in the Gulf region.”
The 2007 arms sales announcement, said to amount to $20 billion over ten years, was “all about Iran,” according to a Bush Administration official at the time.
In September of 2010 the Obama Administration was preparing to submit a request to Congress for a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. A senior official told the New York Times, “We want Iran to understand that its nuclear program is not getting them leverage over their neighbors, that they are not getting an advantage,” that the sale was part of a broader regional strategy, adding, “We want the Iranians to know that every time they think they will gain, they will actually lose.”
Andrew J. Shapiro – Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Dr. James N. Miller – Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
December 29, 2011
MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Before we do our regular daily briefing, we have a special briefing today on U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With us today, we have Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro, and we have Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller. So without further ado, Assistant Secretary Shapiro.
QUESTION: Can we attribute the on-time nature of this briefing to the fact that someone from the Pentagon is here? (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: Absolutely. We have military discipline – (laughter).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHAPIRO: Well, thank you everyone for coming this afternoon. And as Toria mentioned, I’m joined by Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Dr. Jim Miller.
As you may recall, in October 2010, I officially announced the Administration’s plan to sell to Saudi Arabia a significant defense package that would include advanced F-15 fighter aircraft and helicopters. We are pleased to announce that over this past weekend, the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a letter of offer and acceptance for the sale of up to 84 advanced F-15SA fighter aircraft. It also includes upgrades to its current fleet of 70 F-15 aircraft, as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance, and logistics.
This sale is worth $29.4 billion. These F-15SA aircraft, manufactured by the Boeing company, will be among the most sophisticated and capable aircraft in the world. This agreement serves to reinforce the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. It demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.
Since announcing in June – in 2010 our intent to conclude this sale, the Departments of State and Defense have worked closely with the Saudi Government and industry to finalize the particulars of the deal. Jim and I both recently made separate trips to Saudi Arabia, in part to discuss the sale.
Let me outline a few of the reasons why this defense package is so important and historic, and how it will advance U.S. national interests. This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East. It will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against external threats to its sovereignty. It will advance interoperability between the air forces of our two countries through joint training and exercises. And lastly, this agreement will positively impact the U.S. economy and further advance the President’s commitment to create jobs by increasing exports. According to industry experts, this agreement will support more than 50,000 American jobs. It will engage 600 suppliers in 44 states and provide $3.5 billion in annual economic impact to the U.S. economy. This will support jobs not only in the aerospace sector but also in our manufacturing base and support chain, which are all crucial for sustaining our national defense.
I also wanted to note that this sale was carefully assessed under the U.S. Government’s Conventional Arms Transfer Policy. This policy requires such sales be deemed in the national security interests of the United States, are consistent with the country’s legitimate security needs, and support U.S. regional security objectives. With this agreement, the United States and Saudi Arabia have accomplished a historic achievement in our longstanding security partnership, a partnership that furthers security and stability in the Gulf region. Our longstanding security relationship with Saudi Arabia and other partners in the region has been a primary pillar of regional security for decades. And this sale further illustrates the firm commitment of the United States to the security and stability of the Gulf region.
I’ll now turn it over to Jim Miller, who has more to say on the details of the sales package and how it advances U.S.-Saudi military-to-military interests. After that, Jim and I will be happy to take your questions.
MR. MILLER: Thank you, Andrew. And good afternoon and happy holidays to everybody.
Let me start by reiterating that the United States is firmly committed to the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as we have been for nearly seven decades, and that more broadly, the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong mutual interest in the security and stability of the Gulf. Close cooperation between our militaries is central to that security and stability, and we are really announcing today the most recent example of that cooperation.
On December 24th in Riyadh, the United States and Saudi Arabia finalized the letter of offer and acceptance, or LOA, for the purchase of 84 F-15SA aircraft and, as Andrew said, for the upgrade of an additional 70 F-15SA aircraft to this SA configuration. And this government-to-government or foreign military sale is valued at $29.4 billion.