The U.S. government is poised to approve two long-delayed sales of Boeing Co fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait, and could announce the multibillion-dollar deals during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Gulf this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Both deals have been stalled amid concerns raised by Israel that equipment sent to Gulf states could fall into the wrong hands and be used against it, and by the Obama administration’s broader decision-making on military aid to the Gulf.
However, the Pentagon and the State Department both have signed off on the sale of some 36 F-15 fighter jets to Qatar and 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to Kuwait, both built by Boeing. The White House is expected to follow suit shortly.
The sale to Kuwait is worth about $3 billion and the one to Qatar is probably close to $4 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.
“The last hurdle now is getting approval from the National Security Council and the White House,” said one of the sources.
The National Security Council and the Pentagon had no immediate comment on the expected approval of the arms.
Expected approval of the fighter jet sales comes as the White House seeks to shore up relations with Gulf allies as they increase their military capabilities amid growing fears that Washington is drawing closer to Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal with that country.
Senior U.S. officials, including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus have publicly urged approval of the weapons sales, which will help maintain production of the fourth-generation Boeing fighter jets, while the newer and more advanced Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet enters service in coming years.
SOURCE REUTERS, Read more..