Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khalid in Britain to strengthen defense ties

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman met with his British counterpart Ben Wallace for official talks in London on Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Wallace welcomed Prince Khalid at the Royal Cavalry Guard Square in London, where an official reception was held in the Saudi defense minister’s honor.

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The pair reviewed their kingdoms’ strategic and historical ties, discussing ways to further enhance cooperation in the defense and military sectors, during a meeting at the headquarters of Britain’s defense ministry.

Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (Left) and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman (right). (SPA)
Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (Left) and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman (right). (SPA)

The defense ministers also spoke about issues of mutual interest and the latest regional and global security developments, SPA reported.

Prince Khalid and Wallace signed a defense cooperation plan, which aims to develop the capabilities of Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry, localize military industries, and strengthen both nations’ partnerships.

Accompanying Prince Khalid was a Saudi delegation of senior officials, all of whom arrived in the UK on Monday for the official visit.

Visit to BAE Systems in Wharton, Cumbria

During his trip, Prince Khalid also paid an official visit to the headquarters of BAE Systems – a British multinational arms, security and aerospace company – in Wharton, Cumbria.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)

He was received by the Chief of Air Staff of the UK’s Air Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston; Britain’s Military Attaché to Saudi Arabia Brigadier Jimmy Piggott; and BAE Systems CEO Dr. Charles Woodburn.

The Saudi defense minister was briefed on the capabilities of the firms Typhoon aircraft and its combat systems, the company’s future plans which included its program for future combat air capabilities and the development of air systems.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)

Prince Khalid visited the company’s aviation systems development and design site and was briefed on a number of modern aviation systems.

They also discussed ways to strengthen the long-standing partnership between BAE Systems and the Saudi Armed Forces, which extends for more than 50 years, according to SPA.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman at BAE Systems headquarters in Wharton, Cumbria. (SPA)

Over the years, this partnership has reportedly contributed immensely to the Saudi defense sector, and more specifically, to the goals set out by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 under Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its defense spending in recent years. On Monday, the Kingdom’s governor of the defense sector’s general authority Ahmed al-Ohali revealed that the country had spent $1.4 billion in incentives to boost its local military sector over the last two years.

Al-Ohali said that the incentives included $877 million (3.3 billion riyals) which was directed to research and development throughout 2021 and 2022. He added that the remaining $478.6 million (1.8 billion riyals) was distributed to companies in the Kingdom’s military sector, including Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI).

The Kingdom now has the third-largest defense budget in the world.

Saudi Arabia’s military sector is expected to contribute around $25.2 billion (95 billion riyals) to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030.

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