US defence firms eye $10.8bn UAE, Saudi sales

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(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Defence firms in the US are looking to sell military hardware worth $10.8bn to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency said it has notified Congress of the possible foreign military sales to the Gulf countries, with Boeing and Raytheon named as suppliers.

The proposal includes the first US sales to Middle East allies of new Raytheon and Boeing weapons that can be launched at a distance from Saudi F-15 and UAE F-16 fighters.

The Boeing Expanded-Response Standoff Land Attack Missile and Raytheon Joint Standoff Weapon give those nations new capabilities to strike from beyond the range of enemy air-defence systems so pilots aren’t put at risk.

The Boeing missile, a derivative of the Harpoon anti-ship missile, can be launched more than 135 nautical miles from a target and be redirected in flight.

As well as weapons, the statement said the UAE Government has also  requested munitions storage security and training, mission planning, transportation, tools and test equipment, integration support and testing, weapon operational flight programme software development, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and personnel training and training equipment. The estimated cost is $4bn.

"The sale of these munitions is in support of the UAE’s fleet of F-16s. This proposed sale will improve the UAE’s military readiness and capabilities to meet current and future regional threats, reduce the dependence on US forces in the region, and enhance any coalition operations the US may undertake," the statement added.

The proposed $6.8bn deal with Saudi Arabia will help "to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability in the Middle East", the US said.

Among the systems that would be provided are 650 of the missiles known as the SLAM-ER, 1,000 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs and 400 Harpoon Block II anti-ship weapons, all made by Boeing; and 973 of the Joint Standoff Weapons made by Raytheon.

In December 2011, Saudi Arabia signed a letter of offer and acceptance to purchase 84 new and 70 refurbished F-15SA multi-role fighter aircraft and associated weapons.

While the armaments in this request are separate, they are intended for the same platform.

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