US pushing arms sales to Saudi ahead of Trump visit

06 May 2017


The United States is trying to push through multi-billion dollar arms sale contracts with Saudi Arabi ahead of President Donald Trumps visit to America's the West Asian ally, media reports said today.

Trump has revived arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which was suspended by the Obama administration, as part of his pledge to revive the fortunes of America's military-industrial complex led by multinationals like Lohheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing.

Reports said the Trump administration is looking at the sale of a whole range of arms to Saudi Arabia, including laser-guided bombs, to bring in more orders to America's business-starved defence multinationals.

A Reuters report quoting sources said the arms package will include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system from Lockheed Martin, similar to the one being made operational in South Korea, which costs around $1 billion.

On the negotiating table are deals reportedly worth more than $1 billion of munitions, including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by the Raytheon Co.

The new deal could also include contracts that have been under discussion for years but was never finalised, including the previously approved sale of four multi-mission surface combat ships costing $11.5 billion.

Besides, the two countries have been negotiating on a C2BMC software system and a package of satellite capabilities, also provided by Lockheed, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 artillery vehicle manufactured by BAE Systems, the report said.

Reports said, intense negotiations are on to finalise arms deals, potentially worth tens of billions of dollars, ahead of President Trump's forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

US President Donald Trump is embarking on his first official visit overseas, which will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Vatican. Saudi Arabia is set to be the first stop on the President's maiden foreign trip since taking office.

The US has been the main supplier of military supplies to Saudi Arabia and provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.

The two allies are looking to improve relations, which were strained after former President Barack Obama signed a nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia could be the catalyst for the arms negotiations to accelerate.

The Obama administration halted the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, in December 2016, over concerns that the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) was targeting civilians in Yemen.

Since then, lawmakers have questioned US plans to sell precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia

The Trump administration, however, decided to overlook lawmakers' concerns and reverse the policy as it pushed plans to pit Saudi Arabia against Iran as part of its policy to corner Russia.

''It is in our national security interest – as well as that of our Saudi partners – to ensure that the RSAF has the ability to avoid civilian casualties before the US sells them any additional air-to-ground munitions,'' the State Department informed lawmakers in a letter.

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