United States' President Jimmy Carter's controversial proposals for a 4.8 million dollar sales package of military aircraft for Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia has cast a shadow over talks currently in progress in Washington.
GV F15 on runway in South Dakota
GV F15 takes off and into the air (2 shots)
AV F15 in flight
GV PAN F15 landing
GV PAN IN Israel F15 fighter landing
GV Crowd applauds
SV Pilot in cockpit
SV Fighter on ground
GV F-16 takes off in Dallas, Texas
SCU Pilot looking upwards
GV PAN F16 landing
SCU Mr. Menachem Begin speaking in English at National Press Club in Washington
BEGIN: "Should Saudi Arabia get the F-15s, it will be turned automatically into a confrontation state. With these planes from a certain point in Saudi Arabian territory, they can reach Elat within ten minutes and Tel Aviv in 27 or 28 minutes. We also have, from a good source of information, that the Saudis have already promised these planes in a time of crisis to another Arab country which is a confrontation state. Therefore, it is very dangerous."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee began a debate behind closed doors on the deal on Friday (28 April) and, only hours before, the United States Secretary of State Mr. Cyrus Vance lobbied key senators for support at a breakfast meeting. Mr. Dayan, speaking in Washington to reporters, said the deal with dangerous and sale of aircraft to his country should be on its own merits. Israel resented linking of its arms sales to those of other countries.
The Carter administration was planning to send the proposal for Congressional approval on Wednesday (26 April), but agreed to delay it following pleas by leaders of Congress and the Senate. Once it is presented, Congress -- and the Senate -- have 30 days to make a decision.
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Background: United States' President Jimmy Carter's controversial proposals for a 4.8 million dollar sales package of military aircraft for Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia has cast a shadow over talks currently in progress in Washington. Israel's Foreign Secretary Mr. Moshe Dayan is in the United States for talks with U.S. leaders aimed at braking the impasse on the Middle East peace negotiations, and to pave the way for the visit next week by the Israel's Prime Minister, Mr. Menacham Begin. The thorny question of the sales package has not been raised in discussions so far, but Mr. Dayan has again publicly criticised the plan to provide Egypt and Saudi Arabia with military aircraft. He describes it as very dangerous. The proposals also threaten a confrontation between President Carter and the Congress and Senate. The speaker of the Congress, Thomas O'Neill, has said the proposals, now due to be presented to Congress no later than next Tuesday (2 May) could be defeated in both houses. Many U.S. politicians are worried about the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia. But President Carter is adamant. The package must be approved in its entirely, or he will withdraw it.
SYNOPSIS: The package Mr. Carter wants approved will give the Israelis 90 F-15s and F-16s, 50 the less advanced F-5s to Egypt and, most controversially, 60 F-15s to Saudi Arabia. It is the Saudi connection that has upset Israel and many U.S. politicians. The F-15 Eagle fighter bomber, seen here in training in North Dakota, is essentially a defensive aircraft. For offensive purposes it has little advantage over many other aircraft, and its acquisition by Saudi Arabia will not bring a major change to Israel's present superiority in Middle Eastern Skies.
Saudi Arabia wants the aircraft largely for prestige reasons. To operate the fighter-bomber will put them in the front rank of the world's air forces. But Israel fears more sinister motives. It suspects the aircraft could be used offensively, especially if deployed at Tabuk airfield near the Israeli borders.
Israel has F-15s already and will get more under the deal. Her airforce outnumbers all the Arab airforces combined in numbers of first rate aircraft and pilots. Israel also has its own fighter in production.
If the deal goes through, Israel will remain ahead in the Middle East arms race. In Washington on Tuesday, (25 April) President Carter said he had received assurances Saudi Arabia wants the aircraft for defence. But Israel claims to have learnt that, secretly the Saudis have promised to put them at Tabuk, not near the Gulf as promised to the United States. Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Begin, voiced his fears on the deal when he visited Washington in March.