In his first international trip as US president, Donald Trump arrived in Riyadh bearing a record-setting arms deal for Saudi Arabia that features integrated air defense systems, Black Hawk helicopters – including local assembly – and precision-guided munitions, in a multi-billion contract bonanza for Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
On 20 May, President Trump signed an initial $110 billion package with Saudi Arabia, which could eventually reach $350 billion over the next decade.
An agreement between Lockheed and Taqnia Aeronautics promises 150 S-70is will be assembled in country and produce 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia, as well as sustaining another 450 jobs at Sikorsky’s Connecticut facility. If concluded, it will be the third assembly line for the Black Hawk outside of the USA.
The deal also covers ongoing sales of Lockheed Martin C-130 and KC-130 aircraft to Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom operates the largest C-130, KC-130 and L-100 fleet in the world outside of the USA.
In 2012, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible $6.7 billion foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia for 20 C-130Js and five KC-130J aerial refueling tankers. The following year, Lockheed entered into an undefinitised contract with the US government for the sale of the first two KC-130Js Riyadh, which were delivered in 2016.
Lockheed’s sales will include also integrated air and missile defence systems, radar and surveillance systems. News reports earlier this week stated that Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, called Lockheed chief executive Marillyn Hewson to negotiate a lower price for the terminal high altitude area defence (THAAD) system for Saudi Arabia.
Boeing’s sales include agreements for Saudi Arabia to purchase CH-47 Chinooks and an intent to order the P-8 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, according to the company. In December, the US State Department announced a possible foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia for 48 CH-47s, 112 Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines and 16 spares worth a combined $3.51 billion.
The deal also establishes a commercial registration certificate for the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company, a newly formed joint venture between Boeing, Alsalam Aerospace Industries and Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries that will support military and commercial helicopters. In addtion, Boeing and SaudiGulf Airlines will negotiate the sale of up to 16 commercial widebody aircraft.
Although Trump is touting the Saudi arms sale as a result of his own deal making, most of the negotiations occurred under the Obama administration. Then-president Barack Obama halted a portion of the deal that included precision guided munitions sales to Riyadh amid concerns that the Kingdom’s airstrikes against Houthi rebels had increased civilian casualties and aggravated the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The deal signed this week includes Raytheon’s Paveway II laser-guided munition.