Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is starting a weeklong visit to the Middle East, concluding a year of secret negotiations over a $10 billion arms deal involving Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The deal includes American made missiles, warplanes and troop transports, to help each country in facing threats from Iran.
The NY Times quoted a senior administration official who said the goal of the new deal is “not just to boost Israel’s capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat — and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”
When Chuck Hagel leaves the region, he will also, supposedly, answer the puzzling riddle of how can Israel afford to spend even more billions of dollars, when her entire $3 billion in U.S. military aid is already spoken for. In everybody’s mind, there can be only one answer: Israel will ask the U.S. to pay the U.S. whatever it takes, so Israel can get the new, really shiny stuff.
Highest on Israel’s shopping list for things it couldn’t possibly pay for out of its own shrinking budget: new missiles designed to take out the enemy’s air-defense radar, and then, also, advanced radar for Israeli warplanes, and don’t forget new refueling tanker planes. In short, it’s all the stuff you need if you’re going out to bomb the nuclear facilities of an unnamed country a thousand miles away.
In addition Israel will also buy the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft, which combines the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.
If you ask me, Israel needs these units like it needs a hole in the head. Besides the fact that they’ve had a terrible reputation, rife with corruption (a Marine Lieutenant Colonel was kicked off the service after it was discovered he fixed reports to favor the new aircraft), Israel is not facing the troop transport issues the U.S. military does around the globe. It’s a whole lot cheaper to fly the troops across the border in any direction on good, old fashioned choppers, than to utilize and maintain these unwieldy behemoths. But since the entire U.S. military aid to Israel program is, essentially, intended to support jobs creation on Long Island and in Washington State, what do I care.
They accused former President GW Bush of being an irresponsible spendthrift when he invested trillions of dollars of money we didn’t have in invading and destroying the only enemy of Iranian expansionism in the region – Saddam Hussein. But, as it turns out, the president was smarter than we thought. By making Iran the undeniable bully of the Middle east, utilizing Shiite power in Iraq to bolster its own, now U.S. military industrial companies are able to cash in on the new market and sell everybody in the region those state-of-the-art American mega weapons. USA! USA!
“This year the United States provided $3.1 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, the highest the United States has ever provided,” a Pentagon official said. In addition, the United States provides about $300 million in missile defense to Israel, he noted.
Elsewhere in the region, in 2010 Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase 84 F-15 tactical fighters in a deal worth $29.4 billion, the official said, and the first F-15s have rolled off the line in St. Louis and are undergoing flight testing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
During Hagel’s trip, the UAE is expected to move forward with the purchase of 25 F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The expected value of the sale is $425 billion, the official said.
The United Arab Emirates wants to buy 26 F-16 warplanes, at $5 billion, and they also need those precision missiles that can be launched from those same jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia is also in for them advanced missile.
The deal with Israel was in discussion over the past year between former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta and former defense minister Ehud Barak. The Times reports the two had 18 additional telephone discussions on the arms deal. After being sworn in as the new defense secretary, Hagel’s first face-to-face discussion with any foreign counterpart was with Barak, to get the deal done. When Hagel starts will move to finalize the arms deal with Barak’s successor, Moshe Yaalon.