What a difference a month makes.
Back in August, when all was bleak in the stock markets, I gave a shout out to Boeing (NYSE: BA ) for shining a light in the tunnel -- an arms deal to provide Saudi Arabia with F-15 fighter jets, worth at least $30 billion, and as it turns out, perhaps even more. Exactly how much more could this deal be worth to U.S. defense contractors?
How does $90 billion grab you? Because that's starting to look much closer to the right number. In addition to the F-15s already discussed, it's now confirmed that the Saudis may buy Boeing's Apache Longbow and Little Bird helicopters, and Black Hawk choppers from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) as well. Thus, the Saudi shopping list easily reaches $60 billion.
$30 billion here, $30 billion there -- pretty soon we'll be talking real money
And that's still just the start. The Pentagon is also negotiating to upgrade Saudi naval forces at a cost of perhaps $30 billion more. (Beneficiaries here could include either or both of Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT ) and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD ) , which both make variants of the Littoral Combat Ship that seems to have attracted Saudi interest.)
Topping it all off, the Saudis are also interested in upgrading their Patriot surface-to-air missile capability, and buying Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile systems, a sale that would benefit not just prime contractor Lockheed, but also key subcontractors Raytheon (NYSE: RTN ) , Rocketdyne, and Honeywell (NYSE: HON ) . The list goes on.
In short, this is a deal that could affect anybody and everybody -- beneficially -- with a total price tag that approaches and could ultimately even exceed $100 billion. Granted, the details are still being worked out. And regardless of what products end up in the final contract, delivery will almost certainly be spread out over the course of five to 10 years. But the upshot is...
... I think the defense industry just may have found its solution to Pentagon budget cuts.
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