US President Donald Trump is planning to sign multi-billion dollar weapons deals with Saudi Arabia during his upcoming visit to the country, including the possible sale of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.
Trump has decided to visit Saudi Arabia before heading to Israel on his maiden international trip, a move that underscores the kingdom’s significance in his foreign policy.
The new Republican president is planning to enhance relations with the key Middle Eastern ally, which distanced itself from Washington after former President Barack Obama’s push for the historic nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.
He also plans to deliver on his promises to boost manufacturing jobs in the US by offering the Riyadh regime a wide range of weapons deals, Reuters reported Friday, citing unnamed sources within the administration.
Apparently, Trump will offer the Saudis an agreement with weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin for a $1 billion THAAD missile system, similar to the one that the US has already sent to South Korea.
Lockheed’s package would also include a Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) software system as well as a series of satellite capabilities.
The American head of state would also offer the Saudis an $11.5 billion deal for four multi-mission warships and technical support. The US State Department approved the deal in 2015, however, it never went through because of disagreements on both sides.
The warships belong to the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship class, which has been regarded by Pentagon officials as some of the most problematic and least equipped units operated by the force.
This would be the first time in decades that Washington sells new small surface warships to a foreign nation. The deal was suspended under Obama over human rights concerns.
Trump is also looking forward to selling the Saudis more than $1 billion of Raytheon’s armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs.
The bombs have been used by Saudi military forces against civilian targets in Yemen since March 2015, when the monarchy launched an aggression against its poverty-stricken southern neighbor. The Pentagon has been providing the Saudi forces with logistic and surveillance support.
Washington has been under pressure to stop selling Riyadh new weapons.
However, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said during his last month trip to Saudi Arabia that the new US administration would do its best to “see a strong Saudi Arabia.”
Trump criticized Saudi Arabia in late April, saying America was “losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia” and the country should pay the US a fair share in return.