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US approves sale of $650 mln in air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia: State Department

“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.

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The US State Department said Thursday that it was approving the $650 million sale of air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) and related equipment to Saudi Arabia.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $650 million,” a statement from the Pentagon read.

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The announcement comes after Riyadh requested to buy 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers (MRL), according to the Pentagon.

“We’ve seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year. Saudi AIM-120C missiles, deployed from Saudi aircraft, have been instrumental in intercepting these attacks that also US forces at risk and over 70,000 US citizens in the Kingdom at risk,” the State Department said.

Thursday’s deal also includes weapon support, spare and repair parts, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistical support services.

“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.

The sale would improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet “current and future threats” by increasing its stocks of medium-range missiles for its fighter jets used for its national defense, the Pentagon statement read.

“Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces,” the Pentagon said, adding that the sale would “not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

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