RIYADH: The United States and Saudi Arabia have an established security relationship, with over SR375 billion ($100 billion) in active foreign military sales that President Joe Biden can draw on during his his visit to the Kingdom.
According to the website of the US embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia, the two countries have developed consultations on the Middle East peace process, Gulf interests, and international economic and development issues.
The United States also supported three key Kingdom security organizations through the FMS: the Department of Defense, the National Guard, and the Department of the Interior.
As the United States’ largest FMS customer, the Kingdom committed SR88.9 million in early 2022 on advanced arms sales to upgrade its missile defense systems.
The purchase will include 31 low-volume information distribution system multifunctional terminals.
The deal came after the US State Department approved the potential sale of 280 AIM-120C air-to-air missiles in November 2021, worth up to SR2.4 billion. Following bumps in the road, US-Saudi relations are reset with new military sales agreements from the Kingdom.
The November sale was the first major foreign military sale to the Kingdom by the Biden administration since taking office and adopting a policy of selling defensive arms only to the Gulf ally.
SR1.87 billion was the first military sale made under the Biden administration in September 2021, CNN reported.
Feat of space technology
Another notable development that cemented US-Saudi defense ties was Lockheed Martin’s space technology partnership with the Kingdom.
Joseph Rank, CEO of Lockheed Martin in Saudi Arabia and Africa, told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Defense Show in Riyadh that it was the only American company to have sold the Kingdom a military satellite to provide communications secured.
In addition to its aerospace, weapons and information security divisions, the Washington-based company has a separate division for space.
As part of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to localize 50% of its military spending by 2030, Lockheed Martin entered into two agreements with its military regulator at WDS in Riyadh in early 2022.
Under the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Weapon System Localization Program, the Kingdom’s General Authority for Military Industries said the first project is to localize the manufacture of missile interceptor launchers, and the second is to produce locally. missile interceptor containers.
“What’s exciting about this is that it gives the Kingdom the most advanced missile defense system in the world, which will protect it from the increased threats we see in the region and around the world,” Rank said.
He warned that the threats of today and tomorrow will be drones and missiles entering the Kingdom, “so the focus of our efforts is to help them strengthen their defence.”
Rank explained that this is being done with digital counter-missiles, counter-drone systems and a critical command and control system that will be produced primarily in the Kingdom and maintained by the Saudis. It will be “a sovereign and commercial system, not subject to export authorizations”.
Leverage Air Power
According to the head of Lockheed Martin, growth is driven by Saudi Arabia’s need to defend itself against threats. As the Kingdom is one of the biggest consumers of defense equipment, “it makes sense that they produce their systems locally”.
It works with GAMI and Saudi Military Industries to build capacity and capacity in local industry. According to Rank, the 50% requirement was “tough”, but that was what they “committed to”.
As well as providing training, spare parts and technical expertise for all the systems they sell in the Kingdom, he said Lockheed Martin is also an official GAMI academy partner.
“The academy will initially start as a vocational and technical school to help teach young Saudis how to handle complex defensive and mechanical challenges, and they will teach them how to maintain, repair and eventually design their systems,” Rank added. .
He also said that Lockheed Martin had launched internship programs at Saudi universities “to create an R&D ecosystem on campuses.”
The United States also has a well-established relationship with the Royal Saudi Air Force, which began with the purchase of the Kingdom’s initial F-15C/D fleet in 1978, according to a Boeing statement.
After the Gulf War in the early 1990s, the RSAF acquired additional F-15C/Ds, followed by F-15S Strike Eagles, to bolster its capabilities with one of the most advanced multi-role platforms in the world. world.
A Foreign Military Sales Agreement signed in December 2011 between the Kingdom and the United States included F-15SA fighter jets, AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, light attack/armed reconnaissance helicopters AH-6, Harpoon missiles, joint direct attack munitions and small diameter munitions. Bombs, and associated support and training. It was, according to Boeing, the largest deal in US history.
Boeing and SAMI signed an agreement in 2022 to form a Kingdom-focused joint venture to provide maintenance, repair and sustainment services for the country’s rotorcraft platforms.
Boeing has supplied the Saudi Armed Forces with more than 400 defense aircraft during its 77-year partnership with the Kingdom. Boeing’s investment also aims to develop the Kingdom’s aviation, defense and space sectors through seven local partnerships.
The Defense Ministry may receive more support due to Biden’s planned visit to the Kingdom to discuss the two countries’ relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.