ABU DHABI — The Royal Saudi Navy is seeking to purchase 10 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters as part of its naval expansion program.
The foreign military sale request included in a notification to the US Congress on Wednesday is the first by a Gulf country after the Camp David Summit between President Barack Obama and Arabian Gulf leaders.
The request, according to the Pentagon's Defense Services Cooperation Agency, has a total estimated cost of $1.9 billion, and includes 10 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters, associated equipment, weapons and logistical support.
The Saudi Navy's interest in the helicopters was reported by Defense News in February in a letter of request (LoR) from the Saudi government to the US Navy, detailing requirements for the Saudi Eastern Fleet replacement program,according to sources at the Abu Dhabi International Defence Exhibition.
According to the sources, the Saudi naval expansion program was estimated to be worth as much as $16 billion.
Among the highlights of the February LoR reported by Defense News were:
- Four 3,500-ton "frigate-like warships" capable of anti-air warfare, armed with an eight-to-16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) capable of launching Standard SM-2 missiles; fitted with an "Aegis or like" combat system using "SPY-1F or similar" radars; able to operate Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters; with a speed of 35 knots.
- Six 2,500-ton warships with combat systems compatible with the frigates, able to operate MH-60R helos.
- 20 to 24 fast patrol vessels about 40 to 45 meters long, powered by twin diesels.
- 10 "maritime helicopters" with characteristics identical to the MH-60R.
- Three maritime patrol aircraft for coastal surveillance.
- 30 to 50 UAVs, some for maritime use, some to be shore-based.
The Sea Hawks request included the purchase of 380 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets, providing massive firepower for the multi-mission helicopters.
According to the DSCA, the foreign military sale request was made to improve Saudi Arabia's capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems.
"The MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter will provide the capability to identify, engage, and defeat maritime security threats along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay. Saudi Arabia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense," the FMS request read.
The deal also included 14 APS-153 V Multi-Mode radars; 24 T-700 GE 401 C engines; 12 APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe transponders; 14 AN/AAS-44C Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems Forward Looking Infrared Radars; 26 Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module with Link-16 capability; 1,000AN/SSQ-36/53/62 Sonobuoys; 38 AGM-114R Hellfire II missiles; five AGM-114 M36-E9 Captive Air Training missiles and four AGM-114Q Hellfire Training Missiles as well as 12 M-240D crew served weapons and 12 GAU-21 crew served weapons.
Also included are spare engine containers; facilities study and design; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; communication equipment; aerial refueling services; ferry support; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Defense News reporter Christopher Cavas contributed to this report.