U.S. reviewing Mideast arms sales; strong demand

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (Reuters) – The U.S. government is reviewing arms sales to Middle Eastern countries on a “case-by-case basis” given the turmoil in the region, and has already restricted some possible sales, a Pentagon official said on Monday.

Richard Genaille, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said that two of the biggest deals on the table have been cleared to proceed: a $29.4 billion sale of 84 Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and a $7 billion sale to the United Arab Emirates of an advanced missile defense system built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

Genaille told the annual Navy League conference that the overall level of foreign military sales could exceed the currently forecast level of $46 billion in fiscal 2011, compared with about $37.9 billion in fiscal 2010.

Foreign demand for U.S. weapons was expected to continue in the future, and arms sales would likely stabilize between $20 billion and $40 billion, he said.

Genaille cited demand for C-130J transport planes built by Lockheed, C-17 transport planes built by Boeing, unmanned aerial systems, missile defense capabilities, and intelligence and surveillance equipment.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa)

U.S. reviewing Mideast arms sales; strong demand