WASHINGTON — The State Department approved two potential high-profile fighter jet sales of up to 40 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to Kuwait and 72 F-15QA planes to Qatar.
The sale would be a major coup for Boeing, which manufactures both planes and has banked on foreign sales to extend the life of its fighter jet lines into the 2020s.
The Kuwaiti deal is worth approximately $10.1 billion for 32 E-model Super Hornets, 8 F-models, their associated F414-GE-400 engines and spares, 41 AN/APG active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and a slew of weapon systems, including 20mm guns, 240 guided missile launchers, 45 AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receivers, 12 AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER advanced targeting pods, 48 Link-16 systems, eight conformal fuel tanks among others. The sale also includes associated support and logistics services.
The agreement with Qatar would bring in approximately $21.1 billion for the aircraft and their associated weapons systems, US-based training, maintenance support equipment, and logistics support, among other items. The country is considering splitting the 72-jet purchase between Boeing's F-15 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress of both potential sales on Nov. 17, according to State Department news releases. The executive branch must notify Congress 30 days ahead of proceeding with a foreign military sale. Should Congress disapprove of the potential purchase, it would have to pass legislation blocking or modifying the FMS case. However, because informal notification of Congress has already occurred, it is unlikely that lawmakers would pose a barrier for the deal moving forward.
"A formal notification to Congress is great news for Boeing and great news for the F/A-18 and F-15 lines," said Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson.
Presumptive purchases of the Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler by the US Navy in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 and the FMS sale to Kuwait would extend production into the 2020s, allowing the company to keep the line open for future sales, Boeing officials have said.
The Qatar deal also would keep the F-15 production line open into the next decade. The F-15 line was slated to end in early 2019.
Both the Super Hornet and F-15 would be new acquisitions for Kuwait and Qatar, respectively. Kuwait currently operates the F/A-18 Hornet, while Qatar operates Mirage 2000 and Alpha Jets from France.
A potential sale of F-16s to Bahrain remains in limbo.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.