Hagel to Finalize Arms Deals with Israel, Saudis, UAE

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Secretary of State Chuck Hagel will finalize $10 billion worth of arms deals with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during his eight-day Middle East tour, The New York Times reported Friday.

Hagel arrives in Israel Sunday, where he'll begin a series of meetings with Defense Secretary Moshe Ya'alon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials to culminate defense deals that have been in the works for a year.

According to the report, the Obama administration has ensured Congress the deal preserves Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the region, while helping two of America's closest Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Times quotes a senior administration official saying the deal is "not just to boost Israel's capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat -- and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies."

The continuing civil war in Syria and the instability in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi took office nearly a year ago.

Israel's package includes missiles capable of disarming enemy air-defense radar as well as upgraded radar systems for its fleet of fighter aircraft, new KC-35 refueling tanker planes and the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft.

The Osprey has dual capabilities of taking off and landing like a helicopter and flying like airplane. The multi-purpose aircraft can be used to transport troops, patrol borders, and the coastline.

The deal also includes anti-radiation missiles that can be launched from fighter aircraft.

Hagel will close deals with Saudi Arabia that include missiles that can be launched from the F-15s it's purchasing from the U.S. It can also be fitted to the UAE's fleet of F-16s.

The missiles, meant to "address the threat from Iran," can be launched from the air, thereby keeping them from being targeted on the ground.

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