The Pentagon announced Thursday that the State Department approved a potential sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia worth about $650 million.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Saudi Arabia requested a purchase of 280 AIM-120C air-to-air missiles, 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers, and other related equipment. The primary contractor is Raytheon Technologies, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The DSCA said the sale is in support of Saudi Arabia’s air force that is waging a major air campaign in Yemen. In February, President Biden vowed to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. But it was revealed in April that the Pentagon is still servicing Saudi warplanes that are bombing the country.
The missile sale is another example of the US continuing to support the brutal war in Yemen and is the second arms deal for the Saudis approved by the Biden administration. In September, the State Department approved a deal worth $500 million to maintain Saudia Arabia’s military helicopters, including Apache and Black Hawk attack helicopters.
Without US support, Saudi Arabia’s air force would quickly be grounded, and they would be forced to negotiate with the Houthis. Saudi warplanes have been pounding Yemen in recent months around the city of Maarib, where the Houthis continue to make gains despite the airpower they face.
The US-backed war and blockade on Yemen has caused widespread disease and mass starvation in the country. Early this year, the UN warned that if conditions don’t change in Yemen, 400,000 children under the age of five will starve to death in 2021 alone. This means hundreds of thousands of children may have already died since the warning was made.