• Saudi Arabia negotiating the purchase of two frigates from Lockheed Martin
  • The deal, which may include smaller patrol boats, is thought to be worth more than $1bn

Saudi Arabia is in advanced negotiations with Washington to buy two frigates from the US’ Lockheed Martin, in a deal thought to be worth more than $1bn, according to Reuters.

Riyadh plans to modernise the Royal Saudi Navy with training, infrastructure, anti-submarine systems and other equipment.

The deal, which could include smaller patrol boats, could be finalised by the end of 2015.

Saudi Arabia is increasing defence spending, despite budgetary strain caused by falling oil prices.

This is due to increased regional instability and tensions with Iran. Saudi Arabia is also leading a military intervention in Yemen, on its southern border, to push back Houthi rebels, which it claims are supported by Iran.

Saudi Arabia is forecast to increase defence-specific spending to about $60bn a year by 2020, from its present $49bn, to give it the fifth-largest defence budget in the world. The kingdom’s defence spending is understood to have been growing by an average of 19 per cent annually since 2001.

Other upcoming and signed Saudi arms deals with US companies include:

  • $1.9bn to buy 10 MH-60R helicopters from Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies and Lockheed Martin
  • 80 Black Hawk helicopters, also from Sikorsky  
  • $5.4bn in PAC-3 missiles built by Lockheed Martin
  • Lockheed’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to augment the existing Patriot missile and air defence system
  • $500m of munitions for Saudi land forces
  • Significant orders of Lockheed’s Paveway II Plus guided bomb systems
  • $13bn of light armored vehicles to be built by the Canadian unit of General Dynamics Corporation
  • 84 F-15 fighter jets built by Boeing as part of a $33.4bn deal

Source: Reuters

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