Oman to buy new batch of US jets
Muscat, December 16, 2011
Oman is buying a new batch of 12 late-model Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 multi-role fighter planes, the US Defense Department said, in a continuing buildup around Iran.
The order, valued at $600 million, adds to the dozen F-16C/D models already being flown by Oman, which faces Iran across the Gulf of Oman.
Iran is suspected by many of seeking to develop nuclear arms through a program that Tehran says is for peaceful power generation only.
Production of the new F-16C/D "Block 50" planes is expected to be wrapped up by the end of November 2016, the Pentagon said in its daily contract digest Wednesday.
With this sale, the F-16 increases its "follow-on buys" to 54 by 15 countries, said Laura Siebert, a Lockheed spokeswoman.
Iraq, another Iran neighbour, is in the process of buying as many as 36 F-16s in two batches. The first 18 were ordered in September.
A possible follow-on sale of another 18, part of a potential $2.3 billion arms package, was notified to the US Congress by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency on December 12.
The United States regards such sales as fostering long-term security ties, including for pilot training, logistics support and potential military coalitions of like-minded nations.
Last month, the Obama administration formally proposed to sell 600 "bunker buster" bombs and other munitions to the United Arab Emirates, which lies across the Gulf from Iran, to deter what it called regional threats.
The estimated $304 million deal would boost UAE's ability "to meet current and future regional threats" and help deter aggression, the Pentagon said in a Nov. 30 notice to lawmakers.-Reuters