Riyadh: Lockheed Martin, a leading US defence company, has signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Saudi Arabia. Under the agreement, the US company will supply missile defence systems to Saudi Arabia. Only two weeks ago, US President Joe Biden had announced the termination of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, accusing it of human rights abuses in Yemen.
During the tenure of then US President Donald Trump, the US company had announced signing a $110-billion arms package with Saudi Arabia. As part of the deal, Lockheed Martin will supply Saudi with advanced F-35 fighter jets and missile defence systems. The deal was struck on Sunday between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and Lockheed Martin. Accordingly, the US company will provide Saudi with missile defence technology and required training for its workforce.
Earlier, on Saturday, Saudi Arabia had announced that it would develop and manufacture $20 billion worth of weapons and systems. Saudi Arabia stated that it aims to achieve the goal within the next decade. By 2030, Saudi Arabia will be investing more than $10 billion in manufacturing indigenous weapons. Also, the Saudi military announced significant amendments to its policy on Sunday. The Saudi military said the kingdom’s army, Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy would be recruiting women soon.
Meanwhile, the US’ Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabia’s defence pact is looked upon with much surprise. Only two weeks ago, US President Biden had announced his decision to stop US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Biden has accused Saudi Arabia of being responsible for Yemen’s violence and using US weapons in the war. Military analysts believed Biden’s announcement was a warning to Saudi Arabia and that its relations with the United States will deteriorate in the near future.
However, a US analyst says that although the Biden administration has cut off military support to Saudi Arabia, it will not affect the kingdom. In that scenario, Saudi Arabia will likely form a NATO alliance of the Middle East with Israel. Likewise, Saudi will increase military cooperation with India, Russia and South Korea, the analyst claimed.