WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department on Tuesday cleared possible foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Under the first deal, Saudi Arabia would buy 300 Raytheon Technologies-made MIM-104E Patriot missiles for more than $3 billion. Control stations, fire control and other equipment would be included.
This batch of Patriot missiles would replenish a dwindling stockpile for Riyadh. According to DSCA, the sale is meant to defend against attacks by Houthi rebels from Yemen, who shoot ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial systems into Saudi territory.
The arms sale to Saudi Arabia comes after years of rocky relations between Washington and Riyadh over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with then-candidate Joe Biden pledging in 2019 to make the country a “pariah” on the international stage. In February of last year, Biden banned U.S. offensive weapons sales to Riyadh.
On the same day of the foreign military sale, a Yemeni truce was extended. Reuters recently reported the administration is discussing whether to lift the offensive arms ban.
Saudi Arabia has historically played an outsized role in foreign military sales for the U.S. defense industry. The lead importer of U.S.-made weapons, Saudi Arabia bought 23% of all U.S. weapons sold between 2017 and 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Meanwhile, the State Department on Tuesday also cleared a potential $2.2 billion sale of 96 Lockheed Martin-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system missiles as well as related equipment to the United Arab Emirates.
“The proposed sale will improve the UAE’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats in the region, and reduce dependence on U.S. forces,” DSCA said.
Zamone “Z” Perez is an editorial fellow at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa, where he helped produce podcasts. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched humanitarian intervention and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.