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    A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor arrives at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and released by Yonhap on March 7, 2017. Picture taken on March 6, 2017

    Trump’s $110 Billion Saudi Arms Deal Could Include THAAD

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    US President Donald Trump’s recent $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia could include coastal patrol ships for Riyadh as well as the Lockheed Martin-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) currently creating tension in north Asia.

    Speaking to the leaders of 50 Muslim countries on May 21, Trump said the US "will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations." 

    The deal will help provide "a significant expansion of the more than seven-decade long security relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) fact sheet. 

    "The package demonstrates the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, while expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, potentially supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States," it adds.

    DSCA reports that there is a memorandum of intent with Saudi Arabia that could include the sale of THAAD, and the State Department has also approved a potential foreign military sale of Lockheed’s Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC), according to the agency.

    Lockheed says MMSC will be able to reach speeds in excess of 30 knots and a range of 500 nautical miles, and that it will be a "lethal and highly maneuverable multi-mission surface combatant capable of littoral and open ocean operation. It was designed from the keel up to confront modern maritime and economic security threats."

    The vessel will also be "based on the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship’s 118-meter (387 feet) hull and it will utilize the same combined diesel and gas propulsion system," according to the defense manufacturer.

    DSCA Director Joseph Rixey said in a statement that these sales would "contribute to a regional security architecture that advances defense cooperation for both the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

    "Additionally, it provides our partners with full-spectrum capabilities and the use of other security cooperation programs, such as defense institution building programs that address not only the material and related training, but also education and advising on strategy-planning doctrine and institutional support," he said. 

    The multibillion dollar deal also includes 150 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters along with Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMS), the precision-guided bombs former President Barack Obama avoided out of fear of increased civilian casualties, according to Defense Tech.

    Placed in South Korea, the controversial THAAD has been ruffling feathers throughout the region. China fears the system’s radar will be used to spy on their military activity while Washington maintains its sole purpose is help fend off aggression from North Korea.

    Trump signed the arms deal with King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Sunday, with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson saying she was "proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between" the two nations, and that the sale would "strengthen the cause of peace in the region."

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    Tags:
    Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), arms deal, King Salman, Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia, United States
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