The government of Saudi Arabia has requested several hundred Lockheed Martin Corp.-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles and other equipment as part of a potential $5.4 billion deal.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Wednesday announced the possible foreign military sale after notifying Congress the day before. The State Department has tentatively approved the transaction.
The arrangement calls for supplying the Kingdom with more than 600 PAC-3 missiles, telemetry kits, test targets, computers, launcher modification kits, among other equipment, according to the announcement.
It comes just days after Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed -- the world's largest defense contractor -- landed a $1.6 billion defense contract to supply several governments in the Middle East and Asia with the technology, which targets ballistic and cruise missiles and aircraft in the terminal flight phase.
It also comes just weeks after Iran and several Western countries, including the U.S., reached a landmark accord meant to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. Saudi Arabia opposed the agreement out of concern that it would boost the Iranian economy and allow the rising regional power to eventual develop nuclear weapons.
As talks for the pact progressed, Saudi Arabia announced nuclear energy and arms deals with Russia. U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has criticized the Obama administration for pursuing a deal with Iran that has alienated key allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia.
"The Saudis just purchased $1 billion in weapons systems from Russia," he said at an event earlier this month at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "They think they have to go their own way because they can't rely on us."
In a so-called Foreign Military Sale, or FMS, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government. Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs.
"The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a partner which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," the DSCA announcement states.
"The proposed sale will modernize and replenish Saudi Arabia’s current Patriot missile stockpile, which is becoming obsolete and difficult to sustain due to age and limited availability of repair parts," it states. "Saudi Arabia, which already has Patriot missiles in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces."