U.S. Approves $15 Billion Thaad Missile Package for Saudi Arabia

  • Congress has 30 days to review sale, part of Trump’s pledge
  • Proposal marks second sale abroad of Lockheed-built system

Donald Trump and Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.

Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $15 billion sale of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad anti-missile interceptors, launchers and radar, part of the package of weaponry that President Donald Trump promised for the kingdom during a visit in May.

Negotiations on contracts can move ahead unless the U.S. Congress acts to block the deal within 30 days. The Saudis would be the second international buyer of Thaad after the United Arab Emirates. Thaad, which uses a hit-to-kill warhead to destroy short and medium-range missiles, gained international attention this year after the U.S. placed a Thaad battery in South Korea over China’s objections.

The proposed Saudi sale underscored enduring U.S.-Saudi defense cooperation on a day when Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, with deals announced on arms sales as well as energy.

Read More: Putin Hosts Saudi King on Landmark Visit as Oil, Arms Top Agenda

Saudi Arabia has requested a potential sale of 44 launchers, 360 missiles, 16 Fire Control and Communications Mobile Tactical Stations, and seven AN/TPY-2 radars made by Raytheon Co. The package also includes maintenance equipment, 43 trucks, generators, electrical power units, trailers, communications equipment, tools, test and maintenance equipment and spares.

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