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United States speeding up arms exports to Saudi Arabia

The Pentagon is speeding up US weapons deliveries to allied militaries such as Saudi Arabia, Romania, Japan, and South Korea through new “pilot authorities that change how it can design and execute contracts” according to news reports.

Defense One, quoted Ellen Lord, US defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, as saying, Wednesday “we have a whole variety of specific programs where we are focused on applying these authorities: Patriot Missiles for Romania; Global Hawk for Japan, THAAD [high-altitude air defense missiles] for Saudi Arabia, and TOW [vehicle-launched missiles] for multiple foreign military sales partners.”

These new authorities will allow the Pentagon to shave “years” off the time it takes to deliver weapons to friendly militaries, Lord said at the annual SOFIC event here.

The report added that Saudi Arabia is a frequent target of missile strikes by Houthi rebels. Regional authorities routinely fret about Iran’s growing missile capabilities.

The Trump administration, working to increase exports of US-made weapons, has started the process to execute the sale 120,000 precision-guided munitions to allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters said Tuesday that the White House asked the US Congress to review the deal.

Last year, the Trump administration approved the sale of about $7 billion of the precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Raytheon Co is the largest maker of the PGMs in the United States.

Administration and congressional sources confirmed that the informal 40-day review period to sell the munitions to the two countries was under way.

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