The United States Defense Department has approved a $1.15 billion potential sale of military hardware to Saudi Arabia. The sale includes 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and a lengthy list of other military-grade equipment such as 153 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 266 7.62mm M240 machine guns and 153 smoke grenade launchers and night vision devices. Training and support for the use of these items was also included in the deal. The Defense Department has announced that General Dynamics will be the primary contractor for the sale.
The Defense Department approved the sale claiming it would improve U.S. national security through improving the security of a regional partner. Saudi Arabia is currently leading a coalition attempting to oust Houthi forces, that are collaborating with Iran, from Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency oversees all foreign arms sales. They posted a notice to lawmakers on their website explaining the rationale for their decision. They wrote:
“This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization,”
Saudi military actions have recently ramped up in the area. The Saudi-led military coalition launched its first airstrike on the city in over five months.
Congress has 30 days to decide whether or not to block the deal between America’s leading Arab ally and the contractor, General Dynamics.