RIYADH: Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation for Military Affairs, confirmed Tuesday that talks on the final details of a massive arms deal with the United States are ongoing.
In reply to a question by Okaz/Saudi Gazette regarding media reports that the Kingdom plans to buy more F-15 fighter jets as part of the deal, Prince Khaled said, “Part of it is the purchase of the modified F-15 model.”
Also asked why the government did not officially announce the deal that was approved by the US Congress, Prince Khaled said, “Talks are there and there is no deliberate tactic to hide it from the media, but talks are continuing according to the agenda and as part of normal strategic procedure as there is nothing further to elaborate on in the media.”
Prince Khaled replied to the questions on the sidelines of the graduation ceremony at King Faisal Air College in Riyadh.
“Work is also going on to complete the Eurofighter Typhoon jets deal so that the air squadron can be completed in the next two years,” he said. The talks had stopped for a few weeks in order to trace the defect in the plane that recently crashed and to correct it, he added. “Errors can happen in any plane in the world, and the manufacturing process was halted for one or two months until the defect was repaired,” Prince Khaled said. “The defect in the plane has been repaired and it is now functioning better than before,” he added.
Prince Khaled was referring to the Saudi army lieutenant colonel who died last August during a training flight at a Spanish air base aboard a Eurofighter Typhoon jet. A few minutes after takeoff, the plane hit the ground for unknown reasons.
The US State Department, however, said in September the arms deal could be worth up to $60 billion and could include 84 new Boeing F-15 aircraft and 70 Apache helicopters.
– Okaz/Saudi Gazette