President Donald Trump made a really, really big deal out of his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where he announced a $110 billion arms agreement. But the list of weapons to potentially to be sold—it’s not official until the State Department and Congress approves—was not exactly clear and lacking in details. Now we know how much money is being allocated for training, fighter jets, tankers and ships and projected delivery dates for many of these items.
Now, we have a better idea of what the White House wants to sell to the Kingdom, according to a document obtained by Defense News.
Some of the hardware includes 104,000 air-to-ground munitions at a projected cost of $4.46 billion, seven THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) batteries worth $13.5 billion, and 180 howitzers to the tune of $1.5 billion.
The State Department has already approved sales for 26 AN/TPQ-53(V) Radar Systems, designed to pinpoint firing positions of rocket and mortar launchers, are worth $662 million. and a training program for the Royal Saudi Air Force worth $750 million. These sales are included in the $110 billion number.
Here are more of the items:
- $13.5 billion for seven THAAD batteries, with an estimated delivery time of 2023-2026.
- $4.46 billion for 104,000 air-to-ground munitions, divided amongst five types (GBU 31v3, GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-31v1, GBU-38).
- $6.65 billion for enhancements to Saudis’ Patriot anti-missile system, with a scope of work from 2018-2027.
- $5.8 billion for three KC-130J and 20 C-130J new aircraft, along with sustainment through 2026. Those planes would start delivery in 2022.
- $6.25 billion for an eight-year sustainment deal for Saudi Arabia’s fleet of F-15 fighters, with another $20 million for an F-15 C/D recapitalization program study.
- $6 billion for four Lockheed Martin-built frigates, based on the company’s littoral combat ship design. That order falls under the Saudi Naval Expansion Program II (SNEP II) heading, with planned delivery in the 2025-2028 timeframe.
- $18 billion for C4I System and integration, with no further details given on what that means, nor with a delivery date offered.
The most interesting items on the list are the seven THAAD batteries. You have likely heard about their deployment to South Korea, where they are positioned to defend against a missile attack from North Korea. The system is designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase. The Kingdom will certainly put THAAD to good use. Just a day before trump arrived in Riyahd, Houthi fighters launched a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital; it was successfully shot down with a Patriot.
Keep in mind that the Middle East has a history of seeing ballistic missiles fly, with pictures of Scuds littering the collective memory of many Middle Eastern wars on American television, and Tehran has been testing new ballistic missile systems, which may also concern Riyadh.
The Saudis will also get 14 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters worth $2 billion and 30 UH-60 rescue helicopters worth $1.8 billion. The MH-60Rs can deploy aboard a variety of vessels, including destroyers, fast combat support ships, aircraft carriers and cruisers. It can also be fitted with up to three Mark 50 or Mark 46 torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare.
Also listed on the document are two “Remote Sensing Satellites” estimated to cost $800 million and two satellite communications & Space Based Early Warning Systems that cost $4 billion. Space Based Early Warning Systems are used to detect incoming missiles weapons, particularly ICBMs. They can also be used for battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence missions.
Delivery dates on the items vary. The THAAD batteries, for example, won’t be shipped out until 2023. We still don’t know exactly when all of these items will be approved for sale, but the Kingdom will certain improve its military capabilities when everything is finalized.