November 18, 2016

US approves USD31.2 billion of fighter sales to the Middle East

The US State Department has cleared long-delayed fighter aircraft sales to the Middle East valued at USD31.2 billion.

Two notifications posted on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) website on 17 November announced the approval of 40 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for Kuwait and 72 Boeing F-15 Advanced Eagles for Qatar, valued at USD10.1 billion and USD21.1 billion respectively. Both sales were requested some years ago, but had reportedly been held up owing to concerns raised by Israel.The Kuwaiti sale covers 32 single-seat F/A-18E and eight twin-seat F/A-18F aircraft, as well as 12 Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper pods, 48 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), and other equipment and support. Kuwait is the first customer to request an element of Boeing's International Roadmap upgrade for the Super Hornet, with the notification also listing eight conformal fuel tanks for four of its aircraft.

Once in service, the F/A-18E/Fs will initially augment the Kuwait Air Force's current 39 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets and the 28 yet-to-be delivered Eurofighter Typhoons, before eventually replacing the legacy Hornets.
The Qatari sale covers 72 F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) Eagles as well as weapons and related support equipment. Lead-in fighter training in the United States is also included. The Advanced Eagle is the latest variant of the Boeing-made fighter that has also been ordered by Saudi Arabia as the F-15SA. This variant improves on previous models in that it features two additional underwing weapons stations (increasing the number from nine to 11); the option of a large area display cockpit; fly-by-wire controls; and the Raytheon APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
Along with 24 Dassault Rafales that were ordered in May 2015, in Qatar Emiri Air Force service the F-15QAs will replace the service's current 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters.
The DSCA notifications represent the total number of fighters that the State Department has approved, and are not necessarily the number that each nation will procure (Qatar, for example, has already had a portion of its total 72-aircraft requirement satisfied with the Rafale).


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