Saudi Arabia boosts its defense industry with Lockheed Martin deal

Saudi Arabia has signed agreements with US weapons maker Lockheed Martin to produce parts of its missile defense system in the Kingdom. The deal is part of Saudi Arabia’s vision to develop its own defense capabilities and diversify its economy.

The agreements, which were announced on Monday at the World Defense Show in Riyadh, will enable Saudi Arabian companies to manufacture components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles. The THAAD system was approved by the US government for sale to Saudi Arabia in 2017, as part of a $15 billion deal.

The subcontracts will enhance the manufacturing capabilities in Saudi Arabia and transfer expertise to strengthen the country’s defense industry, Lockheed Martin said in a statement. The prime partners of Lockheed Martin’s deal that will receive subcontracts include Middle East Propulsion Company (MEPC) and Arabian International Company (AIC) for Steel. MEPC will be responsible for the production of the THAAD interceptor canister, while AIC for Steel will handle the THAAD Missile Round Pallet, which is used to transport the missiles.

Supporting Saudi Arabia’s vision of economic diversification

The deal is in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenues and create new sectors for economic growth and employment. One of the key pillars of the vision is to develop a domestic defense industry that can meet at least 50% of the country’s military needs by 2030.

Saudi Minister of Investment, Eng. Khalid Al-Falih, who attended the signing ceremony, said the deal would create jobs and opportunities for Saudi youth, as well as foster innovation and knowledge transfer. He also praised the strong and long-lasting bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and the US, especially in the fields of defense and security.

Enhancing Saudi Arabia’s security and stability

The deal also reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to enhance its security and stability in the face of regional threats and challenges. Saudi Arabia has been involved in a military intervention in Yemen since 2015, against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have launched several missile and drone attacks on Saudi targets. Saudi Arabia has also been a key ally of the US in countering Iran’s influence and activities in the Middle East.

The THAAD system is one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, capable of intercepting short- and medium-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the atmosphere. The system consists of a truck-mounted launcher, a radar, a fire control unit, and interceptors. The system can work in conjunction with other missile defense systems, such as the Patriot system, to provide a layered defense against multiple threats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *