DUBAI — The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale today to Saudi Arabia for nine UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters at an estimated cost of US $495 million.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Tuesday delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale, the agency stated on its website.

The possible sale comes as Saudi Arabia is ramping up its operations in Yemen as well as ensuring internal stability in the country as threats from the Islamic State extremist group are increasing.

According to the DSCA, the government of Saudi Arabia has requested the sale of what is classified as Major Defense Equipment. This includes (MDE). nine UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters, 21 T700-GE-701D engines, 20 embedded global positioning systems with inertial navigation system, 12 AN/AAR-57 common missile warning systems and 20 M240H 7.62mm machine guns.

Also included are Aircraft Survivability Equipment; M134 Miniguns; Electro-optical Infraredsystem; Dual Mode Controllable Search Lights; Fast Rope Insertion/ Extraction System, External Electric Hoists, Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tank Systems, Ballistic Armor Protection Systems as well as U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services.

According to the DSCA, the proposed sale will support US make a positive contribution to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improving the security of an important regional partner. that has been, and continues to be, a significant U.S. partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

"The Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command (RSLFAC) plans to use these helicopters for search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian support, counterterrorism, and combat operations," the DSCA added.

The principal contractors would be Sikorsky Aircraft Company and General Electric Aircraft. Company.

The Implementation of this sale will require an estimated 40 to sixty 60 US Government and contractor representatives to travel to Saudi Arabia for up to 60 months for equipment de-processing, fielding, system checkout, training, and technical logistics support.


Awad Mustafa was a Middle East and Africa correspondent for Defense News.

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