Saudi Arabia will soon sign several contracts to purchase military hardware from Russia. It goes about a major deal to buy various modifications of combat helicopters, T-90C tanks, armored vehicles and anti-aircraft missile systems. The deal approximately totals $2 billion. Saudi Arabia will purchase Mi-171, Mi-35 choppers and T-90C tanks until the end of this year.
Saudi Arabia ’s defense budget will increase next year to $44 billion. Until recently, the nation has been purchasing military hardware from Western countries, Interfax reports.
The rumors about such contracts appeared about two years ago, but now it seems that the deal has become real. Saudi Arabia intends to purchase up to 150 helicopters (30 Mi-35 and 120 Mi-17), over 150 T-90C tanks, about 250 BMP-3 (infantry combat vehicle) armored vehicles and several dozens of anti-aircraft systems and complexes.
“All technical and financial issues have been practically coordinated on some of those contracts, and we still work on other papers,” a source told the news agency saying that Saudi Arabia may purchase helicopters and tanks from Russia already this year.
As for anti-aircraft missile complexes, the nation intends to purchase state-of-the-art S-400 Triumph missile systems. It took Saudi specialists and experts quite a while to study the opportunities of the Russian arms before they decided to buy them for the nation’s armed forces. Several groups of Saudi experts visited Russia several times for consultations. Russia’s defense export giant, Rosoboronexport, conducted tests of the T-90C tank in Saudi Arabia. The tank demonstrated very good operational qualities under the conditions of the desert.
It is worthy of note that the defense cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia began in 2007 during Vladimir Putin’s presidency, after the two countries signed an adequate inter-governmental agreement. Saudi Arabia’s arms market was closed for Russia before.
Western countries with the United States at the head dominate Saudi Arabia’s arms market. About 40 percent of all Saudi arms are of the US origin. The nation’s enormous defense budget makes up approximately 33 billion and is expected to grow to 44 billion in 2010.