Should Saudi Arabia be allowed to buy the missile two US Navy fighters used to shoot down two Libyan planes Aug. 19? Air Force Gen. David Jones, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thinks so. But 12 F-15 fighter pilots vehemently disagree. Earlier this year, they wrote to Rep. Tom Lantos (D) of California, a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, to "strongly object" to the sale of the AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missile to the Saudis. In their letter, just released by Lantos, the pilots say they worry that the sophisticated technology of the AIM-9L will "leak to the Soviets through lack of security in Saudi Arabia."
The AIM-9L permits a pilot to attack an enemy aircraft from any quarter, including head on, and score a hit. Earlier Sidewinder models, which the Saudis possess, don't have this ability.m