The U.S. State Department has greenlighted the sale of Patriot missiles and THAAD missiles, as well as related equipment and support, to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. respectively.
As per the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Riyadh has requested to buy 300 Raytheon-produced PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic missiles (GEM-T). Control stations, fire control and other equipment would be included in the approximately $3.05 billion deal.
The arms sale to Riyadh comes after years of rocky relations fueled by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The then-candidate Joe Biden had pledged in 2019 to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the international stage. In February 2021, Biden banned U.S. offensive weapons sales to Riyadh. Despite the restrictions, Saudi Arabia has bought 23% of all American weapons sold between 2017 and 2021.
The potential deal comes just weeks after Biden's July trip to the region. He had hoped to reach an oil production deal to lower gasoline prices as inflation hits 40-year highs.
Justifying the deal, the DSCA said the proposed sale “will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles.” These missiles are used to “defend its borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial system and ballistic missile attacks on civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.”
Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. were also criticized for their involvement in the Yemen War, a conflict described by the United Nations as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Abu Dhabi has also been accused of “fueling” the Libyan Civil War by supplying armed drones, and repeatedly violating end-use rules.
The DSCA said the sale of Lockheed Martin-produced THAAD missiles to the U.A.E. worth $2.245 billion will “improve the UAE’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats in the region, and reduce dependence on U.S. forces.”
This contract, if signed, will cover delivery of 96 THAAD missile rounds; two THAAD Launch Control Stations (LCS); two THAAD Tactical Operations Stations (TOS); as well as related equipment and support.