White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the government to government deal included production of 84 new aircraft and upgrades to 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.
He quoted unidentified experts as saying that the deal would support more than 50,000 American jobs, at a time of high unemployment, and provide $3.5 billion in annual impact to the U.S. economy, according to AFP.
The deal was announced formally as President Barack Obama vacationed in his native state of Hawaii, but had been first unveiled as far back as October 2010 as part of a $60 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
The delivery of the package would unfold over 15 to 20 years and also includes Apache attack helicopters and Black Hawk choppers, defense officials said.
Thursday’s announcement came at a time when tensions between Iran and the United States and its Gulf allies are rising, partly due to Tehran’s nuclear drive.
The U.S. sale of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia sends a “strong message” that Washington is committed to the Gulf’s security, a senior U.S. official said Thursday, amid rising tensions with Iran.
“It will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against external threats to its sovereignty,” Andrew Shapiro, a senior State Department official, told reporters, according to AFP.
Iran has rejected a warning that the U.S. military would not tolerate an attempt by Tehran to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to tankers in a move that would threaten deep disruption to global oil supplies.