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US air-to-air missiles wanted by the Saudis

Saudi Arabia is eager to buy for cash a new air-to-air missile the United States has agreed to sell on easy-credit terms to Egypt and Israel, US defense sources say. Saudi Arabia is reportedly eager to include the AIM-91 super sidewinder missile in a list of equipment, including extra fuel tanks and bomb racks, it wants to add to the F-15 jet fighters it is buying from the US, Monitor correspondent John Cooley reports.

The US administration has been reluctant to sell the extra equipment, including the super sidewinder, a heat-seeking missile that will home in on an enemy plane when fired from any direction, before the November presidential elections.

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The Saudi Arabian defense minister, Prince Sultan, is said to have notified the US that Saudis' support and friendship for the US have been strong enough that they can claim equal treatment with Israel and Egypt on arms deliveries -- especially since they pay hard cash. President Carter's desire for Jewish support for his re-election, the Saudis argue, should not interfere with the ongoing US-Saudi defense supply relationship.

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