Growing nervousness over risks of war with Iran will boost US arms sales in Gulf states, shrinking opportunities for European suppliers with big ambitions in the region.
US plans unveiled this past week to sell Saudi Arabia up to $60 billion in aircraft, helicopters and other arms could lead to the 6 Gulf states spending as much as $100 billion in the next few years to overhaul their armed forces, analysts say.
Unease on the Arab side of the waterway about the prospect of retaliatory strikes in the event of war is also drawing the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) countries closer together. US, their top ally, looks set to benefit most.
"The GCC need to work together, not just what they do, also training and building up manpower," said Saudi Political Analyst Khaled Al-Dakhil. "As individuals they can do nothing."
Riyadh and Washington which, 7 decades ago, formed a strategic relationship based on oil for security, share concerns over Iran's nuclear program, fearing Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.
The arms deal, which top oil exporter Saudi Arabia yet has to confirm, would help Washington's key Gulf ally to counter Iran's regional influence by giving it superiority over Iran's air force, security experts say.
The US Congress also needs to approve the potentially record deal, which would benefit US military suppliers such as Boeing Co. and United Technologies Corp.
Diplomats also say the United States is in talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over an air defense system involving Lockheed Martin Corp.
Smaller Gulf states Kuwait and Bahrain, which are worried about retaliatory strikes as they are home to US bases, are likely to buy surface-to-air missiles such as Patriots, made by US firm Raytheon, said analyst Theodore Karasik.
Flushed with petrodollars, the 6 countries of the Gulf, which also include Qatar and Oman, have unveiled plans to modernize their small armed forces.
As they work on strategies to improve cooperation of their small armed forces a joint military buying strategy would make sense, analysts say.
In total the Gulf countries could spend as much as $100 billion of which 60% would