US OKs $6bn in weapons sales to Gulf allies

US OKs $6bn in weapons sales to Gulf allies
The US State Department has approved a possible $6 billion worth of weapons sales to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said on Friday.
2 min read
04 May, 2019
The US relies heavily on its Gulf allies to curb Iranian influence [Getty]
The US approved weapons sales worth $6 billion to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The US State Department announced the deal could see Bahrain potentially buy various Patriot missile systems and related support and equipment for an estimated cost of $2.48 billion.

The deal could include 36 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles known as GEM-T, an upgrade that can shoot down aircraft and cruise missiles, Reuters reported.

Bahrain was also approved for a deal that would include a range of weapons to support its F-16 Block 70/F-16V aircraft fleet for an estimated cost of $750 million. That package included 32 AIM-9X missiles, 20 AGM-84 Block II Harpoon missiles and 100 GBU-39s which are 250-pound small diameter bombs and other munitions.

Separately, the UAE was given an initial approval for $2.73 billion worth of Patriot missiles and related equipment including 452 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missiles Segment Enhanced (MSE) and related equipment.

The approval of the sales were notified to Congress, though the notification process does not necessarily confirm that a contract has been signed.

The principal contractors for the sales were Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Co.

The Gulf is a major buyer of US arms – Congress has approved $120 billion of sales since 2009 to Saudi Arabia alone, according to a recent Congressional Research Service study. 

The US depends heavily on Gulf allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, to counter Iranian influence in the region.

Arms sales to the kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council members have become increasingly contentious in the US Congress, which must approve such sales.

Rights group have called on a halt to GCC states, with particular focus on Saudi Arabia and the UAE - both of which have led a deadly military intervention in Yemen where recent ACLED figures showed more than 70,000 have been killed since 2015.

The UN has described the Yemen conflict as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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