By Henry Rodgers
The State Department announced it had approved the sales of more than $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia Thursday, which includes 6,700 missiles.
The announcement comes two days after President Donald Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a three week trip in the U.S. The Saudi Arabian government requested to purchase 6,700 U.S. built anti-tank missiles as well as supplies and parts for old tanks and helicopters, which the State Department approved.
The sale will “support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country, which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement Thursday, adding it “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
“The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested to buy up to six-thousand-six-hundred (6,600) TOW 2B missiles (BGM-71F-Series) and ninety-six (96) TOW 2B (BGM-71F-Series) fly-to-buy lot validation missiles. Also included is government furnished equipment, technical manuals and publications, essential spares and repair parts, consumables, live fire exercise and ammunition, tools and test equipment, training, transportation, U.S. Government technical support and logistic support, contractor technical support, repair and return support, quality assurance teams, in-country Field Service Representative (FSR), other associated equipment and services in support of TOW 2B missiles, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $670 million,” the DSCA said in their statement.
Saudi Arabia is the largest buyer of American-made weapons, as the U.S. used al Qaeda as an ally to fight ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Congress has reportedly been notified the State Department about the arms sale, which Congress has 30 days to stop.
Trump developed strong ties with the Arab nation since assuming the presidency. However, he accused Saudi Arabia of funding terror and being behind the 9/11 attacks on the campaign trail in 2016.