The State Department approved a sale of $1.31 billion in artillery to Saudi Arabia, giving “a vote of confidence to the Saudi military as young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman concludes a marathon tour of the United States,” the Washington Post reports.
The possible sale is for “155mm M109A5/A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer structures for conversion to M109A6 Paladin Howitzer systems for an estimated cost of $1.31 billion,” the DSCA said. Congress has 30 days to review the sale.
The State department has approved more than $2.3 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since Crown Prince Mohammed arrived in the U.S., including more than $1 billion in missiles while the crown prince was in Washington. In that earlier figure is $670 million in TOW 2B (BGM-71F-Series) missiles and, with a new $300 million sale for spare vehicle parts for the Royal Saudi Land Forces Ordnance Corps, those deals announced amount to nearly $1 billion.
The uptick in sales during Prince Mohammed’s visit follows an October 2017 announcement of a THAAD missile defense system to Saudi Arabia with a price tag of $15 billion, according to reports and a statement by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). That includes the approval to sell 44 THAAD launchers and 360 missiles, as well as fire control stations and radars.
Officials in both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have described bi-lateral relations at all-time highs.