- The U.S. package would replenish weapons used in Yemen fight
- Boeing munitions, Raytheon bombs included in the proposal
The Obama administration has notified Congress informally that it wants to resupply Saudi Arabia with thousands of precision-guided munitions, according to two people familiar with the proposal.
The weapons that would be sold to the Saudis include Joint Direct Attack Munitions with GPS satellite guidance from Boeing Co., one of the U.S.’s most precise weapons, said the people, who asked not to be identified in advance of a formal notification. The first JDAMs for sale to the kingdom were approved in 2008. Also included would be a resupply of Raytheon Co.’s Paveway bombs that the company first sold to the Saudis in 2011.
With Saudi King Salman due to visit President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday, the U.S. has pledged to bolster the defenses of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab nations after signing a nuclear accord with their Shiite rival Iran. The package sent to lawmakers is aimed at replenishing existing weapons, including those used in Saudi airstrikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen, and it may presage more advanced systems to be proposed in coming months.
The State Department submitted the proposal informally in the second week of August in a customary effort to test reaction from key lawmakers 40 days in advance of submitting a formal public notification outlining specific quantities, companies and potential dollar values. Once a formal notice is submitted, Congress would have 30 days to review it.
While Saudi Arabia generally enjoys strong support in Congress, its intervention in Yemen has been controversial. Human Rights Watch has said Saudi “airstrikes have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians” in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and other cities since bombings began in March. Though some U.S. officials have questioned the Saudi intervention, the Obama administration has provided intelligence and targeting information for the airstrikes.
Congress last week allowed the administration to proceed with a potential second sale to the kingdom of 600 Patriot-PAC-3 air defense missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. in a potential $5.4 billion deal. That’s in addition to a prior sale of 202 missiles.