Biden administration notifies Congress of Saudi arms sale

Deal will allow for service and maintenance of US-manufactured helicopters in Saudi Arabia.

The Joe Biden administration on Thursday notified Congress of a planned $500 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The sale will cover the maintenance of US military hardware that Saudi Arabia either already possesses or has already purchased.

“The proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by the continuation of [services] that will aid in the maintenance support of Saudi Arabia’s rotary wing aircraft fleet, engines, avionics, weapons and missile components,” the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs announced.

“Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

The proposed maintenance sale would service several different types of US-manufactured helicopters owned by the Saudi military.

The $500m maintenance package will also cover eight Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that have yet to arrive in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh purchased the helicopters in 2018 for $26m.

Mr Biden said this year that he is ending US support for the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

This included the suspension of a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia negotiated under the Trump administration that involved precision-guided munitions.

And while Mr Biden has begun to remove US troops and anti-missile batteries that Mr Trump had stationed in Saudi Arabia, he has also pledged to continue supporting the Saudi military's defensive operations.

At the same time, the Biden administration has sought to broker a ceasefire between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels.

The Houthis have so far refused to accept the Saudi-proposed ceasefire and have so far continued the offensive on Yemen’s oil-rich Marib province, the last stronghold of the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

Tim Lenderking, Mr Biden’s special envoy for Yemen, is travelling to Saudi Arabia and Oman this week in his latest effort to advance the UN-led peace process for Yemen. However, he is not expected to meet any Houthi officials during the trip.

Updated: September 16th 2021, 11:26 PM