Pentagon says enabling the kingdom to buy US-made, air-to-air missiles would ‘improve the security of a friendly country’.
The United States has approved a $650m sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announced, in what would be the Biden administration’s first major weapons deal with the Gulf kingdom.
In a statement on Thursday, the Pentagon said the US State Department approved the sale to help Riyadh counter current and future threats.
“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.
It added that Massachusetts-based firm Raytheon would be the “principal contractor” for the sale of AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and related equipment.
The sale comes months after President Joe Biden said he would end US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales”. The State Department’s bureau of political-military affairs noted in a series of tweets on Thursday that the missiles are “not used to engage ground targets”.