WASHINGTON - The Defense Department is working out final details of $10 billion in sales of warplanes, transport aircraft and advanced missiles to Israel and two Arab nations amid concerns about the growing threat from Iran and its disputed nuclear weapons program, Pentagon and congressional officials said Friday.
The U.S. has spent the past year negotiating with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the deals, which come ahead of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's visit to the Middle East starting today.
The officials said the United States will sell to Israel an undisclosed number of KC-135 aerial refueling planes and V-22 Osprey aircraft, the tilt-rotor hybrid that can take off and land like a helicopter and then fly like an airplane, as well as precision-guided missiles and advanced radar for Israeli fighter aircraft. It would be the first sale of the V-22 to a foreign nation.
In Israel, officials said the U.S. offer is meant to ensure Israel's military edge in the region, in light of arms sales the U.S. is advancing in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The weaponry is not expected to arrive in Israel for at least two years.
The package for Israel also includes financial aid.
The United Arab Emirates would purchase 26 F-16 warplanes under the deal, as well as advanced air-launched missiles. Three Pentagon officials who briefed reporters on the arrangement Friday said the UAE segment of the deal is valued at $4 billion to $5 billion.
Hagel will visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.