The Reagan administration's bid to sell Kuwait 40 advanced F-18 fighters is running into strong congressional opposition as the Senate votes to strip a potent missile from the warplane's weapons inventory.

The Senate action to remove the air-to-ground Maverick missile from the $1.9 billion arms package came only hours after the administration formally asked Congress to approve the sale to give oil-rich Kuwait a "first line of defense" in a region racked by the war between Iran and Iraq.Before the measure was adopted on a voice vote, senators made clear they believe the Maverick would pose a security threat to Israel if it should fall into the hands of the Arab enemies of the Jewish state.