The White House has approved sales of U.S. fighter jets to three Persian Gulf states, and begun the process of notifying Congress. Congress can block the sales, but probably will not given the impact on U.S. jobs and the need to counter inroads by Iran in the region. Qatar wants to purchase up to 72 F-15E fighters made by Boeing, Kuwait wants up to 40 F/A-18 E/F fighters made by the same company, and Bahrain is seeking F-16 fighters made by Lockheed Martin. The Boeing sales collectively are worth at least $7 billion if all options are exercised. All three planes face dwindling sales going forward as the fifth-generation F-35 joint strike fighter increasingly dominates tactical-aircraft markets at home and abroad. Assuming Congress does not object, the proposed transactions could extend aircraft production lines that were expected to gradually wind down during the rest of the decade. White House approval of the sales was delayed while provisions were made to assure Israel retains its edge in regional combat capability. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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