US approves combatant ships sale to Saudi Arabia
The US Department of State has approved a potential $11.25 billion sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant Ships (MMSC) and associated equipment to Saudi Arabia, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release on Tuesday.
"The proposed sale will provide Saudi Arabia with an increased ability to meet current and future maritime threats from enemy weapon systems," the press release stated. "The total estimated cost [of the sale] is $11.25 billion."
After the fatal terrorist shootings at an historic black church in South Carolina, President Barack Obama again cited lax gun laws as contributing to this type of mass violence.
The MMSC ships, the release added, will also allow Saudi Arabia to protect its critical industrial infrastructure and the sea lines of communication.
US defense and security company Lockheed Martin has been building the MMSC ships under the US Navy's littoral shipbuilding program. The ships are capable of conducting anti-air, mine countermeasures, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare tasks.
"Saudi Arabia will use the enhanced capability to keep pace with the rapid advances in technology and to remain a viable US coalition partner in the region," the release noted.
Saudi Arabia is currently the world's leading arms importer, spending approximately $6.4 billion on weapons purchases in 2014, according to a study by Janes IHS.