US Air Force: Bahrain Frustrated over Delayed Fighter Jet Sales
2016-07-11 - 8:41 p
Bahrain Mirror (Reuters): A top US Air Force official on Sunday (July 10, 2016) urged the US government to speed up consideration of long-standing bids by Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain to buy US fighter jets, citing growing frustration among the key US allies in the Gulf about delays in the process.
Air Force Deputy Undersecretary Heidi Grant said she was trying to reassure those countries that Washington's failure to approve billions of dollars of US arms sales to them would not alter their strong bilateral air force-to-air force relationships with the United States.
"I would like to see a decision soon," Grant told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the Farnborough Airshow in southern England. Grant said she "absolutely" saw growing frustration among officials in the three countries, which have asked to buy a variety of US fighter planes.
"It's caused us to do more to reassure them that this one transaction should not impact the larger relationship... that they are very valued partners," she said. "Hopefully the delay in this decision to move forward isn't going to have any impact."
Grant said the three requests were still being worked on "at the highest levels of our government." She; however, declined to comment on what was holding up the decisions.
The Pentagon and State Department have both signed off on the sale of 36 F-15 fighter jets to Qatar for about $4 billion, and 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to Kuwait for about $3 billion, both built by Boeing BA 2.30% , according to sources familiar with the matter. A third deal would sell about 16 Lockheed Martin LMT 0.85% F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain in a deal valued at just under $1 billion.
The White House has not yet approved the sales, although the Kuwait sale at least is expected to see approval before the Obama administration leaves office, the sources said.
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