US weighs $1.75 billion defense sale to Saudis

The United States is moving to sell one of the world’s most advanced air and missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia for an estimated $1.75 billion.

Saudi Arabia would buy a Patriot Air Defense System, PAC-3 missiles, equipment, parts, training and logistical support from the U.S. if the sale were approved. Saudi Arabia requested the system, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Wednesday. The agency oversees arms sales to U.S. allies.

{mosads}The deal would coincide with the U.S.-led allied coalition’s military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Saudi Arabia is part of the coalition.

The agency did not say if the sale is tied to the fight against ISIS, only that the new missile system would help Saudi Arabia’s future defense missions and promote stability in the region.

The sale has not been finalized, but the State Department has approved it to move forward. The DSCA said Congress was notified about the possible sale on Tuesday.

In an announcement, the agency said, “the program will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of [Saudi Arabia,] an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are among the defense contractors that would be involved in the sale. If it goes through, one U.S. contractor would be required to go to Saudi Arabia for three years to evaluate the equipment.

Lockheed Martin calls the PAC-3 missile “the world’s most advanced, capable and powerful terminal air defense missile.”

Raytheon says the overall Patriot defense system has the ability to respond to incoming tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other advanced aircraft.

Tags Pentagon Saudi Arabia State Department
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