On Tuesday, the State Department approved two potential arms deals to Saudi Arabia and the UAE worth over $5 billion combined.
The sale to the Saudis is for Patriot surface-to-air missiles and is worth an estimated $3.05 billion. The principal contractor for the Patriot deal is Raytheon, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Patriots are meant to “defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial system and ballistic missile attacks.”
The approval for the Patriot sale comes as a fragile four-month truce in Yemen has been extended for another two months. While there is still fighting on the ground and the Saudis are still enforcing the blockade, there has been no Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and no Houthi attacks inside Saudi Arabia since March.
The deal for the UAE is also for a missile defense system. According to the DSCA, Abu Dhabi has asked to purchase THAAD missiles and related equipment, worth about $2.2 billion. The principal contractor for the THAADs is Lockheed Martin.
The Biden administration’s approval of the deals comes as Israel is looking to build a US-backed military alliance with Gulf countries in the Middle East against Iran. The idea of the alliance is to focus on integrated missile defense systems, although there has not been much public Arab support for the proposal.
The State Department’s approval begins a period where Congress could potentially block the sales.