US approves $500 million sale for Saudi Arabia’s combat vehicle upkeep

MILAN — The U.S. State Department has approved a possible sale to replenish Saudi Arabia’s stocks of spare and repair parts for the country’s fleet of combat vehicles, at an estimated price tag of $500 million.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, announced on Sept. 21 that a possible foreign military sale to that effect is pending, though the notice to Congress doesn’t mean a contract has already been concluded.

The Gulf country has requested to purchase repair parts to sustain the Royal Saudi Land Forces fleet of Abram and M60 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, mortar carriers, mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, light armored vehicles, howitzers, night vision devices, radar sets and more.

The proposed sale would be carried out through the existing Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Arrangement (CLSSA) program, in which Saudi Arabia has participated since 1965.

Listed repair parts would be withdrawn from the U.S. Department of Defense’s supply system, although the DSCA said this would have no adverse impact on Washington’s defense readiness.

This transaction is said to support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by supporting a strategic partner’s self-defense and promoting stability in the Middle East.

In 2016, Riyadh requested to buy up to 153 M1A1/A2 tanks for conversion to 133 M1A2S Saudi Abrams-configured main battle tanks as part of a $1.2 billion deal. At the time, a Pentagon announcement stated that 20 of these were being newly purchased as battle damage replacements for the country’s existing fleet.

The Saudi military is believed to have lost the Abrams tanks in Yemen while fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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