On Saturday, in a significant expansion of the more than seven-decade long security relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the President and Secretary Tillerson attended a signing ceremony for close to $110 billion worth of “defense capabilities” in military sales to support Saudi Arabia’s defense needs.
According to a US State Dept. press release, this package of defense equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats. Additionally, it bolsters the Kingdom’s ability to provide for its own security and continue contributing to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on U.S. military forces.
The press release describe the deal as demonstrating American “commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia,” expanding opportunities for American companies in the Middle east, and potentially creating and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States.
The intended sales fall into five categories: border security and counterterrorism, maritime and coastal security, air force modernization, air and missile defense, and cybersecurity and communications upgrades. Included are offers of extensive training and support to strengthen our partnership and the Saudi armed forces.
Collectively, they present the opportunity to significantly augment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capabilities to help deter regional threats and enhance its ability to protect its borders and contribute to coalition counterterrorism operations.
Border Security and Counter Terrorism: Capabilities such as aerostats, tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and associated training that will enable Saudi Arabia to secure its borders against terrorist and other threats.
Maritime and Coastal Security: Capabilities that will enable Saudi Arabia to defend freedom of navigation and to deter and defend against maritime attacks or incursions. Systems include Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, helicopters, patrol boats, and associated weapons systems.
Air Force Modernization: Systems, sustainment, and training that will enable Saudi Arabia to maintain airborne surveillance, secure its airspace, and provide close air support with improved precision targeting capabilities and processes. Systems include transport, light close air support, intelligence-gathering aircraft, and continuing support for its existing platforms.
Air and Missile Defense: Systems such as Patriot and THAAD that will help Saudi Arabia protect itself and the region from missile or other airborne attacks.
Cybersecurity and Communications: Equipment that will modernize Saudi Arabia’s command and control networks across its military to improve its overall cohesion and operational effectiveness.