In the biggest American arms deal ever, the administration of President Barack Obama is prepared to notify Congress of plans to sell advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to US$60 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The publication added the Pentagon was also in talks with the Saudis about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more.
The administration sees the deal as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran, the report said.
The US$60 billion in fighter jets and helicopters is the top-line amount requested by the kingdom, even though Riyadh is inclined to commit initially to buying only about half that amount, the paper said.
In its notification to Congress, expected to be submitted this week or next, the administration will allow 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, the Journal noted, citing unnamed officials.