WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is seeking a go-ahead from Congress to sell up to $60 billion worth of sophisticated warplanes to Saudi Arabia and could add another $30 billion worth of naval arms in a deal designed to counter the rise of Iran as a regional power.
The deal would apparently represent the largest single U.S. arms sale ever approved. It would allow Saudi Arabia, the most militarily advanced of the Arab gulf states and one of the richest countries in the world, to buy top-line U.S.-made helicopters and fighter jets with ranges that would span the Middle East and beyond.
Unlike some previous sales to Saudi Arabia, this one is not expected to be derailed by opposition in Congress or from U.S. backers of Israel. Iran is now seen by Israel, the gulf Arab states and the West as a significant threat that has changed the old calculus of the region's balance of power.
The Pentagon plans to notify Congress of the proposed Saudi sale within about a week, Col. David Lapan, a spokesman, said Monday.
Separately, the Pentagon is considering an additional request to sell up to roughly $30 billion in advanced naval technology to Saudi Arabia.
The Associated Press said it was told by defense officials that the plan was still in the preliminary planning stage and would not come before Congress for months.