The ships, known as the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC), are the largest part of Saudi Arabia’s $16 billion plan to replace and modernize the kingdom’s eastern fleet in the Persian Gulf.
The modernization plan includes the four frigates, along with six smaller corvette-sized ships, all operating Lockheed Martin Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters. The helicopters are to cost $1.9 billion. A number of smaller vessels and aircraft also are in the plan.
Negotiations have been underway between Washington and Riyadh over the MMSC package, which includes weapons, logistics, training and other services. The Saudis declined the latest offer last week, sources told Defense News.
Reportedly, the Saudis balked at the price tag for the MMSC package – thought to be between $3 and $4 billion – and were unhappy with the time it would take to complete detail design of the ships, carry out systems integration, build the vessels, deliver them and install infrastructure improvements in the kingdom.
The first ship would be delivered in about seven years, which the Saudis reportedly think is excessive, a source told Defense News.
Washington is expected to return to the bargaining table with counter offers.