WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department has cleared the potential sale of Paladin Howitzers to Saudi Arabia and MQ-4C Triton unmanned systems to Germany, with a potential combined pricetag of $3.81 billion.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the Senate was notified of the potential sales on Thursday. DSCA notifications do not represent final sales; if cleared by the Senate, the potential sale enters negotiations, meaning dollar totals and quantities can change.
Saudi Arabia was cleared to purchase 180 155mm M109A5/A6 Howitzer structures, which will be converted to 177 of the more advanced 155mm M109A6 Paladin Howitzer systems. Along with the Paladin weapons comes three static training devices, 180 .50 caliber machine guns, and various support systems.
The weapons come with an estimated cost of $1.31 billion. The prime contractor is unknown, according to the DSCA notification, but BAE Systems has previously done work on the Paladin.
The howitzer deal for Saudi is part of the much-ballyhooed $110 billion arms package announced during a 2017 visit by President Donald Trump to the kingdom. A document obtained by Defense News listing key parts of that deal included a call for $1.5 billion for 180 howitzers, with an estimated delivery time of 2019-2022.
Germany, meanwhile, was cleared to purchase four MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems, along with support and training equipment. The estimated value is $2.5 billion for the systems, with the work being primarily done at Northrop Grumman’s Rancho Bernardo, California, facility. In German, Airbus Defence and Space will also take part industrially.
The Triton, a variant on Northrop’s Global Hawk system, was selected by Germany in 2017 at the conclusion of a years-long saga that saw Berlin pursue a “EuroHawk” program that was ultimately cancelled due to rising costs. Germany continues to weigh buying armed unmanned systems as well.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.