Friday, 20 October, 2017

Saudis Eye US, Russian Missile-Defense Deals As Global Demand Rises

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Wilma Wheeler | 10 October, 2017, 00:26

"This sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the (Persian) Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats", the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation agency claimed in a statement.

The US State Department has approved the possible sale of a THAAD anti-missile defence system to Saudi Arabia at an estimated cost of $US15 billion.

Saudi Arabia is a longstanding US ally in the Middle East and its arms deals with Moscow have caused disquiet in Washington.

Maria Vorobyeva, spokeswoman for the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, told the RIA Novosti news agency that a deal on the air defense system had been agreed with Riyadh.

Meanwhile, King Salman of Saudi Arabia has entered into a preliminary agreement to purchase Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system, he announced in Moscow last week.

The main USA contractors who will profit from the sale are aerospace giant Lockheed Martin's space systems division and defense contractor Raytheon.

"The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region", it said.

"This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia's capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region".

Last week, Australia said it will outfit its new naval warships with Lockheed's Aegis air-defense system, which is also used by the US and Japan and would help the three navies coordinate on missile-defense missions.

During the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Russian Federation last week, deals worth at least 2.1 billion US dollars were signed, according to a Kremlin statement.

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