Arm-ageddon: US to resupply Israel’s bombs & missiles arsenal, sell attack choppers to S. Arabia
The Pentagon has announced new multibillion dollar arms contracts with the regimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia, America’s primary allies in the Middle East. Both are knee-deep in military conflicts destabilizing the region.
The $1.9 billion deal with Israel implies supply of some 3,000 Hellfire precision missiles, 250 AIM-120C advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, 4,100 GBU-39 small diameter bombs and 50 BLU-113 bunker buster bombs. The order also includes 14,500 tail kits for Joint Direct Attack Munitions for 220kg and 900kg bombs and a variety of Paveway laser-guided bomb kits.
Israeli media sees the deal as “compensation” for the rapprochement between Iran and the US, which Washington sees as trying to get Tehran’s nuclear program under control.
Tel Aviv has been sharply criticizing Washington for its decision to negotiate a nuclear deal with Tehran, and Israel has even ostentatiously “reserved the right” to conduct a unilateral air strike on Iran.
“The proposed sale of this equipment will provide Israel the ability to support its self-defense needs,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, adding that the new contract is meant to“replenish”Israel’s arsenal without supplying the country with any kind of new weapons.
In November 2014 it was reported that Pentagon was going to supplying Israel with 3,000 smart bombs, similar to those used by the Israeli Air Force in Gaza last summer, where an estimated 100 tons of munitions were dropped.
The main contractors to fulfill the lucrative Israeli arms deal will be Boeing, Ellwood National Forge, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missile Systems, AFP reported.
As for Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest buyer of American weapons, it wants to buy 10 Seahawk MH-60R helicopters along with radars, navigation systems and 38 Hellfire missiles.
According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, between 2010 and 2014 Riyadh spent $90 billion on American weapons, becoming world’s leading buyer of US-made arms.
The helicopters will be supplied by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, while associated gear will be produced by Lockheed Martin.
The US administration must notify Congress 30 days ahead of the sale of weapons to a foreign government, as lawmakers have a right to block or amend any arms deal.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have been recently conducting offensive operations on the territory of their neighbors.
During the 50-day campaign in Gaza last summer, where Israel actively used its Air Force, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority of them unarmed civilians.
Israel is also regularly targeting airstrikes on the territory of neighboring Syria.
Apart from multiple airstrikes against military installations controlled by the Syrian Army, Damascus has accused Israel of providing air support to armed terrorist groups in Syria.
Saudi Arabia has initiated and led airstrikes on the territory of neighbor Yemen, where Houthi rebels have seized power and ousted a Riyadh-backed president.
Since late March, when airstrikes were launched and a naval blockade of Yemen was imposed, at least 1,250 people have been killed and over 5,000 wounded in the conflict, according to the World Health Organization. Local estimates of casualties have been much higher.