Saudi Arabia will buy up to four Littoral Combat Ships from the US in a deal that could be worth $11.25bn as the kingdom seeks to modernize its navy, Bloomberg has reported.
The agency quoted an unnamed American official as saying that the US State Department has approved the sale under the Foreign Military Sales program, which will allow the Saudis to negotiate contracts for the ships.
The Littoral Combat Ship is designed in two versions by defense manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Austal. According to Bloomberg, the US is offering a version of the ship called the ‘Multi-Mission Surface Combatant’, which will be customized to Saudi requirements.
The planned sale could include engineering, logistical and training support for Saudi naval personnel, radar and sonar systems, and munitions and fire-control systems.While Congress has 30 days to block the sale before it takes effect, it could take years for the deal to be signed. If agreed, it would be the first overseas sale of the vessel.
In an interview with Arabian Business last year, Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson said the firm was also marketing the Littoral Combat Ship to the UAE.
“We have proposed some variants of the LCS to be looked at for a multi-mission combat system in the UAE, as well as the surface combat system in Saudi,” Hewson said. “Navies around the world have an interest, so we’re going to continue to answer their requests for information.”
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