By Andy Sambidge
New agreement includes production of 84 combat aircraft, modernisation of 70 other jets
The governments of the United States and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement under the foreign military sales programme to provide advanced F-15SA combat aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Valued at $29.4bn, the agreement includes production of 84 new aircraft and the modernisation of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.
The F-15SA aircraft, manufactured by The Boeing Company, are among the most sophisticated and capable aircraft in the world, the White House said in a statement.
"This agreement will positively impact the US economy and further advances the president's commitment to create jobs by increasing exports." the statement said.
According to industry experts, the agreement will support more than 50,000 American jobs, engaging 600 suppliers in 44 states, and providing $3.5bn in annual economic impact to the US economy.
"This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates the US commitment to a strong Saudi defence capability as a key component to regional security," the White House added.
Saudi Arabia’s last significant US weapons purchase was for 72 F-15s in 1992, a transaction valued at as much as $9bn. The final installment of those planes was delivered in November 1999.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil supplier, used F-15s and Apache helicopters in late 2009 to fight Muslim Shiite rebels who crossed the border from Yemen and seized territory inside the kingdom.