Posted: May 22, 2017 2:22 PM

Saudi Arabia Announces Intent to Buy Surface Combatants, P-8 Aircraft

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has signed agreements or letters of intent with the Unites States and defense companies to purchase a wide range of military platforms and equipment, including surface combatant ships and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The agreements were signed in ceremonies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during an official visit by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Signing for Saudi Arabia were King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif Al Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

Saudi Arabian officials announced their nation’s intent to purchase an unspecified number of Boeing-built P-8 aircraft, according to a May 21 Boeing announcement.

Boeing also will provide CH-47 helicopters, sustainment services, support for military and civilian helicopters, and up to 16 wide-body airliners. Boeing did not announce an estimated value of the planned purchases.

Lockheed Martin announced in a May 20 release that the agreements included “Letters of Offer and Acceptance and a Memorandum of Intent covering government-to-government sales of Lockheed Martin programs to include integrated air and missile defense systems, multi-mission surface combatant ships, radar systems, surveillance systems, tactical aircraft and rotary wing programs.

“Lockheed Martin and Taqnia [will] form a joint venture to support final assembly and completion of an estimated 150 S-70 Black Hawk utility helicopters for the Saudi government,” the company release said. “A Memorandum of Understanding between Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabian Military Industries for the parties to work together to build defense capabilities in the KSA … and provide for localization efforts associated with Multi-mission Surface Combatants and Aerostats.”

Lockheed Martin builds the Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) and is will be bidding on the U.S. Navy’s new frigate, submitting a design based on the Freedom or on a new design. The Saudi program likely will be based on the LCS or the new frigate. The sale could be the first international sale of the LCS or a derivative.

Saudi Arabia would become Boeing’s seventh customer for the P-8, joining air arms of the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Norway and New Zealand. The nation has never before operated specialized long-range maritime patrol aircraft.

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