Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to the Middle East in the next week is expected to be used as an opportunity for the Pentagon to finalize yet another massive arms export deal to the region, with $10 billion in warplanes going to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel’s portion is heavily subsidized by the $3 billion-plus in annual US military aid to them, and includes a V-22 Osprey, the first time any foreign military has been allowed to purchase one.
The bulk of the sales are 26 F-16 warplanes for the United Arab Emirates, however, along with precision air-to-ground missiles. The deal is being presented as a “counter” to Iran in the region.
In reality, of course, it is unlikely the UAE would ever consider launching offensive operations against its neighbor across the Gulf, which is 20 times its size. The massive arms sales to them and other small nations in the area are mostly for the sake of diplomatic show, as well as for those nations’ rulers to trumpet their advanced militaries as a source of prestige.