x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

US to sell weapons worth $10bn to UAE and Saudi Arabia

American arms manufacturers to sell more than US$10bn in weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Elizabeth Dickinson reports

The US department of defence has formally notified the US Congress that American arms manufacturers intend to sell more than US$10 billion (Dh36.7bn) in weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The intent to sell weapons to the two countries was first announced in April, but under US law the legislative branch of the US government must be officially informed of all foreign military sales by US defence contractors.

That notification occurred on Tuesday and contains new details about the arms transfers. Congress now has 30 days to review the proposed sales.

If no objections are raised, the UAE would be permitted to purchase $4bn worth of munitions and equipment, most of which would be used by the country’s F-16 fighter jets.

The UAE deal includes 1,200 so-called joint standoff weapons, long-range missiles that allow aircraft to hit distant targets without entering enemy airspace, and 5,000 GBU-39B small diameter, or “bunker buster”, bombs.

The sale will “improve the UAE’s military readiness and capabilities” as well as “reduce the dependence on US forces in the region, and enhance any coalition operations the US may undertake”, the defence department said in a statement.

Under the department’s proposal, Saudi Arabia would be allowed to purchase $6.8bn in similar munitions and equipment, as well as $90 million in support services for its ministry of defence from the US military training mission located in the kingdom.

Meanwhile, the defence department also said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, spoke by telephone on Monday.

Mr Hagel told the crown prince that the US “intends to test the prospects for diplomacy” with Iran but Washington “remains firm in its commitment to the security of the region and to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon”, said spokesman George Little.

edickinson@thenational.ae