US homes in on multi-billion dollar military deals

04 August 2006

Despite ongoing hostilities in Lebanon and Iraq, US military sales to the Arab world have spiked with more than $11,000 million worth of proposed contracts announced since 20 July. The US' Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees all foreign arms sales, has notified Congress of the possible sale of weapons, military vehicles, helicopters and the provision of extensive training for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. Congress will now have until the end of August to approve the sale. DSCA said the deals would help strengthen the military capabilities of regional allies and ability to help the US fight terrorism around the world. Saudi Arabia makes up the lion's share of the agreements. The largest contract, valued at about $5,800 million, covers the modernisation of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The deal includes the provision of 724 light-armoured vehicles, more than 2,300 long-range military radio systems, night-vision goggles, and rifles. Florida-based Harris Corporation, Indiana-based ITT Aerospace Communications, Virginia-based General Dynamics Land Systems and Arizona-based Raytheon Corporation are the principle contractors. The kingdom is also looking to purchase M1A1 Abrams tanks and upgrade its M1A2 Abrams tanks in a deal worth about $2,900 million. Under the proposal, Riyadh will purchase 58 M1A1 Abrams and upgrade 315 M1A2 Abrams - already in the military's arsenal - to M1A2S configuration. Vehicle teardown and final reassembly will take place in the kingdom with the engineering phase taking 30 months. 'The proposed sale and upgrade will allow Saudi Arabia to operate and exercise a more lethal and survivable M1A2S tank for the protection of critical infrastructure,' says the DSCA statement. General Dynamics is the selected contractor.

Riyadh has also requested the possible remanufacture and upgrade of Apache helicopters in a deal worth about $400 million. The order would centre on the modernisation of 12 AH-64A Apache attack helicopters to AHD 64D configuration. The Boeing Company, General Electric (GE) and Lockheed Martin, all US-based, are the selected contractors. In addition, the kingdom has asked to buy 24-UH-60L utility/assault Black Hawk helicopters. The estimated $350 million contract will be used to modernise and increase the rotary wing fleet of the Royal Saudi Land Forces. Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and GE are the main contractors.

Riyadh is targeting an estimated $276 million co-operative logistics supply support arrangement. The contract centres on the provision of an uninterrupted supply of spare parts for the kingdom to keep its vehicle fleet up to date. The deal would centre on the provision of funds for a blanket order of spare and repair part requisitions for M1A2 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.

Border security has become a priority issue for Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to crack down on terrorists and smugglers crossing its borders. As part of its plans, Riyadh has invited defence contractors from nine countries to bid for the estimated $5,333 million Miksa (Ministry of the Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) border security contract. It covers the installation, operation and maintenance of a radar-based system for detecting incursions along the kingdom's 6,500-kilometre border (MEED 28:7:06, 26:5:06).

DSCA has also revealed details of smaller deals across the rest of the region. In the UAE, the federal government has requested the sale of 26 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters with engines. DSCA, says the estimated $808 million will target the 'protection of sovereign borders as well as protection and defence of US and coalition strategic facilities.' Sikorsky and GE will be the contractors.

A similar deal, worth $252 million, has also been requested by Bahrain. The kingdom is looking to purchase nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. Sikorsky

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