AIRSHOW-US continuing to work with Saudis on arms deal

* Deal said to include 84 Boeing F-15 fighters

* Timetable uncertain given changes in Saudi leadership

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 22 (BestGrowthStock) – The United States
is working closely with Saudi Arabia on a possible arms sale
worth close to $30 billion that includes 84 Boeing Co (BA.N: )
F-15 fighter jets, U.S. government officials familiar with the
plan said on Thursday.

The arms sale package, still subject to congressional
approval, would include dozens of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters
built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp
(UTX.N: ), missile defense equipment and ships.

“Those are all work in progress,” Navy Vice Admiral Jeffrey
Wieringa, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security
Cooperation Agency, told Reuters in an interview at the
Farnborough Airshow. “We’ll just continue to move forward.”

Wieringa, who oversees foreign arms sales, said he could
not give any timetable for completion of the deal, given recent
appointments of new air force and navy chiefs in Saudi Arabia.

“They may have different defense visions and I need to be
respectful of the new leaders,” said Wieringa, who is due to
retire at the end of the month. “It’s important for us to work
together.”

Boeing declined comment. No comment was immediately
available from United Technologies. The arms sale would also
likely include new coastal warships.

The U.S. Navy is expected to pick the winning designs for
the new warships in mid-August. Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: )
and the U.S. unit of Australia’s Austal (ASB.AX: ) are competing
for the deal, valued at well over $5 billion.

Defense industry executives at the air show outside London
have said they saw strong interest in U.S. weapons from
cash-rich Gulf nations this week.

They say the Obama administration has taken strong steps to
encourage arms sales to U.S. allies given its interest in
promoting security cooperation.

U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are
worried about Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the interview with Reuters, conducted on Monday,
Wieringa said the phrase “security cooperation” was mentioned
22 times in the U.S. quadrennial defense review completed
earlier this year, versus five times in the previous defense
review.

He said he was receiving strong support from senior
Pentagon leaders for arms sales around the world, and in this
case, from the military services as well.

Once the United States and Saudi Arabia reach agreement on
a deal, the Pentagon will conduct discussions with
congressional aides to ensure the support of U.S. lawmakers and
address any concerns.

Then, Wieringa’s agency would send a formal notification to
Congress, giving lawmakers 30 days to object to the deal.
Generally, notifications are not sent unless lawmakers have
already generally agreed to the sale.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer of U.S. weapons during a
four-year span of 2005 through 2008, with $11.2 billion in
deals, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

Investing Research

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-ESa with additional reporting by
Adam Entous; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

AIRSHOW-US continuing to work with Saudis on arms deal