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Joshua Teitelbaum

À  tober 20, 2010, the U.S. State Departme t otified Co ress of its i te tio to
make the biest arms sale i Ameria history - a estimated $60.5 billio purhase by
the Ki dom of Saudi Arabia. The pakae represe ts a o siderable improveme t i the
offe sive apability of the Saudi armed fores.

À Saudi Arabia's armed fores are ompartme talized by royal family fatio , a d do ot
share ommu iatio s. They i lude the Royal Saudi Air Fore (RSAF), Royal Saudi
La d Fores (RSLF), Saudi Arabia Royal Guard (SARG), a d Saudi Arabia Natio al
Guard (SANG). This system is at o e a form of oup-proofi  a d power-bala i .

À SANG, headed by Ki  Abdullah a d his so s, is slated to be partiularly blessed with


156 ew heliopters, si ifia tly i reasi  its mobility a d attak apabilities.
Abdullah has si ifia tly upraded the SANG, whih amou ts to the perso al militia of
his family fatio .

À The U.S. was kee to poi t out that the arms tra sfer would i rease "i teroperability"
with U.S. fores. I the 1990-1991 Gulf War, havi  U.S.-trai ed Saudi fores, alo 
with military i stallatio s built to U.S. speifiatio s, allowed the Ameria armed fores
to deploy i a omfortable a d familiar battle e viro me t. This ew deal would i rease
these apabilities, as a adva ed Ameria military i frastruture is about to be built.

À Totally offe sive i ature, the pakae, with its attak pla es, heliopters, a d "bu ker-
buster" bombs, was learly desi ed to deter Ira a d to se d a stro  si al, perhaps
previously laki  i the bama admi istratio , that the U.S. would sta d stro ly by its
allies. U.S. offiials have also beu to refer to the "Persia Gulf" as the "Arabia Gulf,"
a hot-butto issue for the Ira ia s.

 tober 20, 2010, the U.S. Departme t of State otified Co ress of its i te tio to make the
biest arms sale i Ameria history - a estimated $60.5 billio purhase by the Ki dom of
Saudi Arabia. I formatio o the deal had bee leaki  si e Auust, as the White House tested
o ressio al opi io .

The U.S. has a stro  defe se relatio ship with Saudi Arabia. The Co ressio al Researh
Servie has desribed the history of arms sales to the ki dom:
The U ited States has lo  bee Saudi Arabia's leadi  arms supplier. From 1950 throuh 2006,
Saudi Arabia purhased a d reeived from the U ited States weapo s, military equipme t, a d
related servies throuh Forei Military Sales (FMS) worth over $62.7 billio a d Forei
Military Co strutio Servies (FMCS) worth over $17.1 billio (fiures i historial dollars).
These fiures represe t approximately 19 pere t of all FMS deliveries a d 85 pere t of all
FMCS deliveries made worldwide duri  this period. The larest si le ree t U.S. forei
military sale to Saudi Arabia [u til ow - JT] was a $9 billio o trat for 72 F-15S fihter
airraft. The o trat was si ed i May 1993, a d delivery of the F-15S airraft was ompleted
i 1999.1

ë   

The a ou eme t of the sale was formalized i four separate otifiatio s to Co ress,
represe ti  various arms of the Saudi armed fores, a d refleti  the divided o trol of the
Saudi military betwee two mai royal family fatio s:

1. The Royal Saudi Air Fore (RSAF)2 was prepared to purhase 84 F-15SA airraft, 1,100
GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bombs (2,000-lb.), a d 1,000 GBU-31B V3 Joi t Diret
Attak Mu itio s (JDAM) 2,000-lb. bombs, alo  with 193 LANTIRN aviatio pods (3rd
Ge eratio -Tier Eye), 170 APG-63 (v)3 Ative Eletro ially Sa ed Array Radar (AESA)
sets, Harpoo , HARM (a ti-radar), a d Sidewi der missiles. Also i luded are the uprade of
the existi  RSAF fleet of 70 F-15S multi-role fihters to the F-15SA o fiuratio ,
ommu iatio seurity, site surveys, trai ers, simulators, publiatio s a d teh ial
doume tatio , perso el trai i  a d trai i  equipme t, U.S. over me t a d o trator
e i eeri , teh ial, a d loistial support servies, a d other related eleme ts of loistial
a d proram support. The estimated ost is $29.432 billio .3

2. The Royal Saudi La d Fores (RSLF)4 were to reeive 24 AH-64D Blok III Apahe
Lo bow heliopters a d assoiated missiles a d eletro is. Also i luded are trai ers,
simulators, e erators, trai i  mu itio s, desi a d o strutio , tra sportatio , perso el
trai i  a d trai i  equipme t, publiatio s a d teh ial doume tatio , U.S. over me t a d
o trator e i eeri , teh ial, a d loistis support servies, a d other related eleme ts of
proram support. The estimated ost is $3.3 billio .
3. The Saudi Arabia Royal Guard (SARG)5 si ed up for 10 AH-64D Blok III Apahe
Lo bow heliopters with the requisite missiles a d eletro is. Also i luded are trai ers,
simulators, e erators, trai i  mu itio s, desi a d o strutio , tra sportatio , tools a d test
equipme t, rou d- a d air-based SATCM a d li e-of-siht ommu iatio equipme t,
perso el trai i  a d trai i  equipme t, publiatio s a d teh ial doume tatio , U.S.
over me t a d o trator e i eeri , teh ial, a d loistis support servies, a d other
related eleme ts of proram support. The estimated ost is $2.223 billio .

4. The Saudi Arabia Natio al Guard (SANG)6 ompo e t was 36 AH-64D Blok III Apahe
heliopters, 72 UH-60M Blakhawk heliopters, 12 MD-530F liht turbi e reo aissa e
heliopters, a d 36 AH-6i liht attak heliopters, alo  with missiles a d eletro is. Also
i luded are trai ers, simulators, e erators, mu itio s, desi a d o strutio , tra sportatio ,
wheeled vehiles a d ora izatio equipme t, tools a d test equipme t, ommu iatio
equipme t, spare a d repair parts, support equipme t, perso el trai i  a d trai i  equipme t,
publiatio s a d teh ial doume tatio , U.S. over me t a d o trator e i eeri ,
teh ial, a d loistis support servies, a d other related eleme ts of proram support. The
estimated ost is $25.6 billio .




   

There is o doubt that the pakae represe ts a o siderable improveme t i the offe sive
apability of the Saudi armed fores. The RSAF is promised 84 ew F-15SAs, a d a uprade of
its urre t 70 F-15Ss to F-15SA sta dard, ivi  it a total of 154 adva ed airraft. This omes
o top of its already formidable squadro s of 80 Ameria F-15C/Ds, a d British-made
Typhoo s (72) a d Tor ados (about 100).

 e of the most i teresti  developme ts o er s the heliopters.7 Saudi Arabia's armed fores
are ompartme talized by royal family fatio , a d do ot share ommu iatio s.8 This system,
put i plae by Ki  Faysal (d. 1975), is at o e a form of oup-proofi  a d power-bala i .
SANG, headed by Ki  Abdullah a d his so s (partiularly the omma der of SANG, Mut'ib), is
slated to be partiularly blessed with 156 ew heliopters, si ifia tly i reasi  its mobility
a d attak apabilities far beyo d its traditio al role of defe di  the royal family, o trolli 
Shiites, a d proteti  stratei loatio s, suh as oil i stallatio s. SANG was ot k ow to have
a y air power at all. f ourse, Crow Pri e Sulta bi Abd al-Aziz a d his so Khalid, who
o trol the RSLF, RSAF a d SARG u der the Mi istry of Defe se a d Aviatio , are etti 
some pretty hefty hardware as well. Partiular atte tio should be draw to the SARG Apahe
Lo bows, si e the SARG was ot k ow previously to have had heliopters, althouh it miht
have draw them from the RSLF (of whih it is offiially a part) whe eeded. The ree t deal
seems to e erally be keepi  the bala e of power, althouh Abdullah has si ifia tly
upraded the SANG, whih amou ts to the perso al militia of his family fatio .

I both the State Departme t a ou eme t of the deal by A drew Shapiro, Assista t Seretary
of State for Politial Affairs, a d the Departme t of Defe se otifiatio s to Co ress, the U.S.
was kee to poi t out that the arms tra sfer would i rease "i teroperability" with U.S. fores.
This is a key poi t. It was prove i the 1990-1991 Gulf War that havi  U.S.-trai ed Saudi
fores, alo  with military i stallatio s built to U.S. speifiatio s, allowed the Ameria armed
fores to deploy a d operate i the theater i a omfortable a d familiar battle e viro me t. This
ew deal would i rease these apabilities throuh the purhase of Ameria arms a d trai i 
by Ameria perso el.

I esse e, as i 1990-1991, a adva ed Ameria military i frastruture is about to be built.
The U.S. is ot relyi  o joi t Gulf Cooperatio Cou il (GCC) fores, whih do ot approah
the level of i teroperability with eah other that the U.S. possesses a d aspires to expa d eve
further with the Saudis.9 As the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, Persia Gulf deployme t beomes
eve more ritial. I a ma er of speaki , the deal amou ts to a ki d of pre-positio i  of
U.S.-ma ufatured war materiel a d U.S.-trai ed perso el i a very stratei theater. At the
very least, it would free up U.S. fores to be deployed elsewhere.

The pakae otably does ot i lude a y defe sive apabilities, partiularly ballisti missile
defe se (BMD). The Saudis are partiularly se sitive to the prese e of U.S. troops i the
ki dom - i deed, that prese e duri  the Gulf War was o e of the reaso s ited by Usama bi
Ladi for the formatio of al-Qaeda - a d have dialed dow the U.S. footpri t si ifia tly as a
result. BMD would require a si ifia t prese e. But Saudi Arabia has most probably ot bee
aba do ed to ballisti missiles. Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrai , a d the UAE all have U.S.-ma ed
Patriot missile batteries, a d U.S. Aeis Combat System-equipped ruisers freque t the Persia
Gulf.10 Additio al Aeis ships a provide overae from the Red Sea. It is likely that there are
Patriots i Iraq as well. It seems, therefore, that muh, if ot all, of Saudi Arabia is already
overed for BMD from eihbori  ou tries a d seas.

D  


I fat, totally offe sive i ature, the pakae, with its attak pla es, heliopters, a d "bu ker-
buster" bombs, was learly desi ed to deter Ira a d to se d a stro  si al, perhaps previously
laki  i the bama admi istratio , that the U.S. would sta d stro ly by its allies. The deal
falls withi the e eral poliy a ou ed by Preside t Geore W. Bush i July 2007 to arm the
Gulf states aai st Ira . At the time, a se ior admi istratio offiial stressed: "This is a bi
developme t, beause it's part of a larer reio al stratey a d the mai te a e of a stro  U.S.
prese e i the reio . We're payi  atte tio to the eeds of our allies a d what everyo e i the
reio believes is a flexi  of musles by a more aressive Ira .  e way to deal with that is to
make our allies a d frie ds stro ."11 A d this time arou d, U.S. offiials were eve bolder. "We
wa t Ira to u dersta d that its ulear proram is ot etti  them leverae over their
eihbors, that they are ot etti  a adva tae," a se ior admi istratio offiial said as ews of
the pla ed sale bea to trikle out. He emphasized: "We wa t the Ira ia s to k ow that every
time they thi k they will ai , they will atually lose."12

That the deal was aimed at Ira was partiularly otieable i Shapiro's press o fere e. I
partiular, Shapiro used the loaded term "Arabia Gulf" i o e out of three refere es for the
body of water that has traditio ally a d offiially bee termed by the U.S. the "Persia Gulf."
This is a hot-butto issue for the Ira ia s, a d was a stro  si al both to Tehra a d the GCC
ou tries, whih all it the Arabia Gulf (dddd d ). It is hard to believe this phrase was
u i te tio al. The use of the same phrase by Kurt Campbell, Assista t Seretary, Bureau of East
Asia a d Paifi Affairs, less tha a week later suested a more aressive U.S. sta e.13 (A
website alled www.persia orarabia ulf.om i vites readers to vote o whih term they prefer.
As of this writi , Persia Gulf leads 71 to 29 pere t, with over 100,000 respo ses. Ira ia s are
very patrioti.)

Israel did ot raise objetio s to the sale, exept to say that it was " ot thrilled about it,"14 but
U.S. offiials were at pai s to stress that there had bee previous hih-level o sultatio s with
Israel, a d that the Jewish state's qualitative military ede was bei  mai tai ed. Israel was also
sheduled to reeive the latest i aviatio warfare, the F-35, i 2015, the same year the F-15SAs
were sheduled to be se t to Saudi Arabia. The Israelis have appare tly ive the od.

 e promi e t member of the royal family, former head of i tellie e a d former ambassador
to Washi to Turki Al Faysal, did ot seem partiularly rateful for the seurity ooperatio .
He used a speeh to the Natio al Cou il o U.S.-Arab Relatio s to upbraid the admi istratio
for its support of Israel i less tha raeful terms. Israel was a "drai o the U ited States, ot
as asset," he averred. "Withi the makeup of this admi istratio ," Turki o fided, "there are
offiials who ratio alize, exuse, a d o do e Israeli i tra sie e." He railed aai st the idea
of i depe de e from forei oil, alli  it a "a ard," a d referred to supporters of Israel as
"live huma muppets...who are ru by AIPAC."15

While there was o ly very muted o ressio al oppositio to the sale, Preside t bama's publi
tha ki  of Saudi Arabia for help i the i terditio of two Yeme -orii ati  bombs headed for
Chiao sy aoues o tober 29 was set to assure smooth saili  for the deal o Capitol
Hill.16 The war i  had ome perso ally from the Saudi Mi ister of I terior, Nayif bi Abd al-
Aziz.17 Nayif o trols the Mi istry of I terior a d its speial seurity fores, a d represe ts
a other royal family fatio .

Fi ally, the boost to the aili  U.S. eo omy should ot be i ored as a motivati  fator.18 The
stakes were partiularly hih for Missouri, whih had Boei 's F-15 produtio li e with 14,000
jobs, as well as Arizo a, Florida, hio, a d New York.

The sale is sure to be approved by Co ress, a d with the approval, the U.S.-Saudi seurity
relatio ship is bak o a eve keel. Althouh the two ou tries do ot share ma y values, they
do share seurity i terests. Israel shares ma y of these i terests as well.

* * *

?
1. Christopher Bla hard, "Saudi Arabia: Bakrou d a d U.S. Relatio s," Co ressio al
Researh Servie, Ju e 14, 2010.

2. http://www.dsa.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-43.pdf

3.  ly the most importa t aspets i the otifiatio are i luded i these lists.

4. http://www.dsa.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-45.pdf

5. http://www.dsa.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-46.pdf

6. http://www.dsa.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-44.pdf

7. See Yiftah Shafir, "The White Army Aai st Ira : The Saudi Arms Deal - Part Two," ·d d 
, tober 28, 2010, www.i ss.or.il (Hebrew).

8. See Joshua Teitelbaum, "A Family Affair: Civil-Military Relatio s i Saudi Arabia," Draft
Paper Prese ted to the Fourth Mediterra ea Soial a d Politial Researh Meeti , Robert
Shuma Ce tre for Adva ed Studies, Flore e, Marh 2003.

9. http://www.susris.om/2010/09/17/us-saudi-seurity-ooperatio -impat-of-arms-sales/

10. http://www. ytimes.om/2010/01/31/world/middleeast/31missile.html?_r=1

11. http://www.washi to post.om/wp-dy /o te t/artile/2007/07/27/AR2007072702454.html

12. http://www. ytimes.om/2010/09/18/world/18arms.html

13. http://www.state.ov/p/eap/rls/rm/2010/10/150035.htm

14. http://www.forward.om/artiles/132611/

15. http://www.washi to times.om/ ews/2010/ot/23/promi e t-saudi-royal-blasts-obama-


israel/

16. http://www.reuters.om/artile/idUSN3026296820101030

17. http://www. ytimes.om/2010/11/01/world/01terror.html

18. http://thehill.om/busi ess-a-lobbyi /125595-60b-arms-sale-to-saudi-arabia-a- eeded-


boost-for-defe se-ompa ies