Saturday, November 10, 2012
Saudi Arabia plans to buy 20 C-130J military transport planes, five KC-130J refueling aircraft (Hercules) and related equipment from Lockheed Martin Corp. valued at about $6.7 billion, the Pentagon said Friday in a statement.
"The proposed sale of these aircraft and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region," the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) stated. The agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, added that Saudi Arabia needs the airplanes to “sustain its aging fleet, which faces increasing obsolescence.”
The US has historically tried to reassure Israel over past military deals with Saudi Arabia. In December 2011, after announcing a sale of fighter jets to the Gulf country worth around $29.4 billion, US officials expressed confidence that the sale would benefit Israeli security by "bolstering moderate allies in the Gulf."
The C-130J-30 variant of the four-engine turbo-prop plane that Saudi Arabia is seeking has 15 extra feet of fuselage compared with the plane’s standard model, according to Lockheed, the plane’s maker. The extra space lets the plane carry two additional cargo pallets, according to Lockheed’s website. The KC-130 J refueling plane is also made by Bethesda, Maryland- based Lockheed.
The proposed “sale to Saudi Arabia represents the largest foreign military sale of C-130s in the program’s history,” Peter Simmons, a Lockheed spokesman said in an e-mail.
The possible sale also includes 120 engines, including 20 spares made by London-based Rolls Royce Holdings Plc, and 25 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems made by Rockwell Collins Inc. based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Saudi Arabia received its first C-130 in 1965, according to Lockheed Martin’s website. The Middle East kingdom now operates 50 older models of the transports, Simmons said.
The proposed sale of the transport planes follows thePentagon’s announcement this week that Qatar and United Arab Emirates are seeking US missile defense systems valued at as much as $16.4 billion.