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Corker: Historic Israel Military Aid Deal Will Spark U.S. Gulf Fighter Sales

Defense News reports: WASHINGTON — The US is set to approve long-pending fighter jet sales to Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait now that a landmark aid deal with Israel has gone through, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.

“I’m glad they consummated [the aid deal], and I’m glad that the follow on is we’re completing sales to Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “To act like there’s no connection — let’s face it, it’s like the hostages left when the money arrived.”

The question of whether the jet sales –  requests from Qatar for 72 F-15E Strike Eagles and Kuwait for 28 F/A-18E/F – have been held up to maintain Israel’s legally-mandated qualitative military edge has been a longstanding one. Those two nations first requested those potential sales over two years ago.

It has been a delicate dance for Israel, with officials telling Defense News they had raised the issue with the White House but avoiding public comments in order not to be seen as obstructionist for a series of jets which could have huge economic impact for the US defense industry. (Boeing is banking on those sales help keep its St. Louis, Mo., production line going.) Bahrain is also reportedly in the market for up to 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons, made by Lockheed Martin.

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