U.S. touts Saudi Arabia jet deal as a security, economic boon http://t.co/npB6ZUp7 Thank Allah the Iranians-at least-can provide Zioconned USA jobs....
The $30 billion sale of 84 advanced Boeing F-15SA fighters and upgrades for 70 older models is a major component of a far wider U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia that's worth $63 billion and aimed at countering Iran.
But even that mega-deal is dwarfed by what the Financial Times calls "one of the largest re-armament exercises in peacetime history" -- the sale of advanced weapons worth $122.88 billion to the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf, all to smother Iran's expansionist aims.
Washington's announcement of the F-15 deal Thursday was apparently timed to coincide with major Iranian naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.
These are widely seen as a warning by Tehran it will seek to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the only way in and out of the gulf and a key oil artery, if the West imposes new sanctions to throttle Iraq's oil exports.
The $63 billion, 10-year U.S. arms package for Saudi Arabia, which includes helicopters, missiles, precision-guided munitions and tanks, was unveiled in 2007 and is now kicking in.
The sales to the gulf monarchies, along with a projected arms deal with Iraq worth $11 billion, are intended to underline the Americans' commitment to protect the region's Arab oil states from Iran as it allegedly strives to develop nuclear weapons.
The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which was completed a couple of weeks ago, has alarmed the Saudis and their partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Mubarak was driven from office by unprecedented street protests in February in the early phase of the political upheavals that have convulsed the Arab world since January 2011.
Saudi Arabia is Iran's archrival in the gulf region. The kingdom, like the other GCC states, is dominated by Sunni Muslims, the main Muslim sect. Iran is controlled by the breakaway Shiite sect. The two have been locked in a religious feud since the seventh century.
Tensions between the two camps in the gulf have been rising steadily in recent years.
The Obama administration recently accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards of involvement in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, a charge Tehran denies.
Saudi Arabia has the largest military forces in the region. But like its GCC partners, has little or no combat experience.
These states, particularly the United Arab Emirates, are heavily reliant on foreign technicians to keep their complex weapons systems functioning -- and have even had to depend on Pakistani pilots to man their frontline squadrons in the past because of manpower problems.
The United Arab Emirates has in recent years built up a formidable air force with considerable striking power.
Military analysts in the gulf say the emirates, dominated by economic powerhouse Abu Dhabi, has signed contracts for military hardware totaling $35 billion-$40 billion, mostly with the United States and France.
U.S. officials reported Thursday Abu Dhabi has signed a $3.59 billion deal with the Lockheed Martin Corp. to buy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile interceptors capable of shooting down, short-, medium- and long-range ballistic weapons, such as Iran's Shehab-3b and Sejjil-2 systems.
The officials said the contract, involving 96 interceptors rather than the 144 originally envisioned when the project was first mooted in 2008, is likely to be formally announced next week.
THAAD will form the core of a regional missile defense shield the Obama administration plans to deploy across the region.
The GCC's defense chiefs agreed years ago to develop an integrated early warning system but dynastic rivalries have prevented progress.
The emirates is the first foreign buyer of THAAD. Saudi Arabia is reported to be interested in the system as well.
Kuwait has signed a contract for upgrading its Raytheon Patriot missile defense systems, which are designed to counter low-level threats, to PAC-3 standard.
All told, tiny Kuwait is expected to spend $7 billion on U.S. weapons systems over the next few years.
The sultanate of Oman, which shares control of the Strait of Hormuz with Iran, is slated to spend $12 billion on 18 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D jets and installing new command-and-control centers....
Washington and Riyadh inked a $29.4 billion deal to provide 84 new Boeing-built F-15E fighters for the Royal Saudi Air Force. Boeing and the Air Force will also modernize 70 of the fighters already in the fleet, according to the deal signed this week. The first batch of new Saudi Strike Eagles will be delivered by 2014. The remodeled jets will hit the Saudi fleet later that year, according to a Pentagon fact sheet. The new and refurbished F-15 jets will be outfitted with a number of capabilities requested specifically by the Saudi military, Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing's defense, space and security division, told AOL Defense yesterday. Those Saudi-specific amenities include a new digital electronic warfare package, a "fly-by-wire' capability and the next-generation Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, he said. That is the same radar on board the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Saudi sale is the first of many Boeing hopes to lock in over the next few years, Muilenburg said. Company officials are looking to increase foreign sales of their military aircraft by 25 to 30 percent this fiscal year, he said. The F-15E deal could also bring the company a step closer to securing part of what could be one of the most lucrative foreign military deals of the decade.
Yesterday's deal with Riyadh gave Boeing "a boost in our momentum" towards participating in the Saudi Naval Expansion Plan II, Muilenburg said. The SNEP II program -- worth an estimated $10 to $20 billion over the next decade -- is focused on reconstituting the eastern fleet of the Royal Saudi Navy. American defense firms have been clamoring for a chance to sell the latest and greatest naval hardware to Riyadh. For their part Boeing is looking to supply the Saudis with next-generation fighters, helicopters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for SNEP II. This week's Strike Eagle sale to the Saudi air force is certainly a positive step in that direction, according to Muilenburg. Aside from its implications for a potential SNEP II deal, the F-15E sale also helped Boeing rebound from its loss in Japan's recent fighter competition.
Boeing's F-18 E/F was beat out by the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 to be Japan's next fighter aircraft. Tokyo inked the deal for 40 to 50 JSFs earlier this month. Boeing's win this week proves the company "still has a robust pipeline" into international markets, despite the loss to the F-35, Muilenburg said. "Anytime we win business. . . it benefits [all fighter programs]," he added.
The recent influx of U.S. military hardware into the Saudi Arabia comes as simmering tensions in the region threatened to bubble over this week. The situation began when Tehran announced plans to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. The key waterway bordering Iranian coastline is a vital transit point for commercial and military vessels looking to enter the Persian Gulf. The threat comes as Iran is in the midst of their own massive buildup of their naval forces. The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from commanders of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, the headquarters of Naval Forces Central Command. "Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations. Any disruption will not be tolerated," according to a NAVCENT statement. Iranian navy eventually backed off their threat but continues to conduct wargames in the area.
That new crop of foreign stealth fighters that’s emerging; don’t worry, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet can handle ‘em. That’s the interesting pitch that Boeing’s man in Tokyo for fighters gave me earlier this month while discussing Japan’s F-X fighter contest. I suspect that’s Boeing’s main pitch for many of it’s potential fighter customers
Basically, the Super Hornet’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar — and it’s ability to jam enemy radars and electronic countermeasures — combined with the jet’s infrared search and track (IRST) system will allow it to compete with low-observable jets, said Phil Mills, director of Boeing’s F-X program in an interview just days before Boeing lost that contest to Lockheed Martin’s stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
(IRST systems have been around for decades, they use an infrared sensor to allow a pilot to ID and lock onto a target’s heat signature rather than radar signature.)
Here’s his pitch as to why the newest versions of the Super Hornet will be a viable competitor to the latest stealth jets:
IRST expands our frequency spectrum of sensor coverage so that it gives us much better counter-stealth capability than we had with just AESA.
AESA’s much better [than older radars] as far as detecting small targets. But, AESA plus IRST gives you the capability of not worrying about targets with low radar cross sections, so you can see those targets and actually establish a weapons-quality track without the radar. You can also cue that AESA, that has two and-a-half to three-times the detection range of the old radar anyway, and it can see further than that if you cue it to look at a very small piece of the sky.
The Super Hornet is a proven design, with some stealthiness built in, that can be continuously upgraded to survive in 21st Century aerial combat, added Mills.
The F/A-18E/F is an example of “where Boeing has been really successful, not doing clean-sheet developments so much, but evolving proven designs and integrating new technology and putting in new capabilities on more an evolutionary basis as opposed to a revolutionary, let’s do a clean sheet, like F-35, and go through all the development pains of a new start,” said Mills.
Now, the IRST as a stealth killer could have been Mills’ be a last ditch argument to sell the Super Hornet to Japan. Modern stealth jets are designed to mask their heat signatures. After all, 21st Century stealth isn’t just about being invisible to radar. Truly stealthy designs limit the amount of heat, electronic signals and even noise emitted by the aircraft in an attempt to make them undetectable.
I’d like to see what happens when one of the new IRST-equipped Block II Super Hornets goes up against an F-22 Raptor or F-35. Remember, a Navy EA-18G Growler electronic attack jet did score a fake kill against a Raptor a couple of years ago..... lol