Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—The US Department of Defense has sent formal notification to Congress of its intention to sell arms and military equipment worth USD 10.8 billion to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Pentagon clarified that the deal is part of a bid to strengthen relations between Washington and Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Pentagon officials said that the arms shipment to Saudi Arabia will be worth approximately USD 6.8 billion and include missile systems, and other sophisticated military equipment and ordinance. This will include the first US sales to Middle East allies of new Raytheon and Boeing weapons that can be launched from F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.
The proposed arms deal with Saudi Arabia includes the sale of 1,000 state-of-the-art GBU 39-B “bunker busters” from Boeing, in addition to 1,500 long-range air-to-surface missiles.
The Pentagon deal with the UAE is estimated at USD 4 billion, and includes 5,000 GBU 39-B smart bombs, and 1,500 air-to-surface missiles for the country’s F-16 squadron.
A US State Department statement affirmed that negotiations over this arms deal first began four years ago. The statement by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency confirmed that Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of a number of advanced weapons including 650 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missiles-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), 973 AGM-154C Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW), and 400 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability in the Middle East,” the statement said.
“This proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future regional threats. These munitions will strengthen the effectiveness and interoperability of the air force of a potential coalition partner, enhancing the coalition operation,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement added.