U.S. Security Cooperation With Saudi Arabia

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
October 16, 2018


Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in maintaining security in the Middle East, due to its economic, political, and cultural importance and its strategic location. Given the complex and dynamic security challenges facing the region, which include countering violent extremism from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as other extremist groups, the United States works with Saudi Arabia to support counterterrorism efforts and our shared interest in regional stability. In addition, building on the May 2017 Riyadh Summit, we are working to increase cooperation on maritime security, military preparedness, arms transfers, and cybersecurity.

As a result of U.S. security cooperation, the Kingdom has foiled numerous terrorist attempts against Saudi and foreign targets, and has been able to successfully deter external attacks. The United States remains committed to providing the Saudi armed forces with the equipment, training, and follow-on support necessary to protect Saudi Arabia, and the region, from the destabilizing effects of terrorism, countering Iranian influence, and other threats. Toward that end, the United States will continue to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to improve training for special operations and counterterrorism forces, integrate air and missile defense systems, strengthen cyber defenses, and bolster maritime security.

Saudi Arabia is the United States’ largest foreign military sales (FMS) customer, with over $114 billion in active cases. With the signing of the May 2017 $110 billion agreement to pursue Saudi Armed Forces modernization by President Trump and King Salman, we expect a significant increase in FMS and DCS cases. To date this initiative resulted in over $14.5 billion in implemented FMS cases. In January 2017, the United States approved a possible FMS case to Saudi Arabia for a Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), also known as a 74K Aerostat System, for an estimated cost of $525 million. In May 2017, the United States approved an FMS sale to Saudi Arabia for continuation of a naval blanket order training program for an estimated cost of $250 million. In June 2017, the United States approved the continuation of a blanket order training program that includes flight training, technical training, professional military education, specialized training, mobile training teams, and English language training, valued at $750 million. In June 2017, the United States approved a possible sale of 26 AN/TPQ-53(V) Radar Systems and related training and equipment for an estimated cost of $930 million. As part of a Saudi Arabia eastern fleet modernization, in October 2017, the United States implemented a $6 billion FMS case for a 4 ship Multi-Mission Surface Combatant program. In October 2017, the United States approved the potential sale of 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers, 360 THAAD Interceptor Missiles, 16 THAAD Fire Control and Communications Mobile Tactical Station Group, seven AN/TPY-2 THAAD radars, and associated support equipment, for an estimated cost of $13.5 billion.

The Saudi-led coalition is supporting the legitimate Yemeni government and defending its territory from an incursion by Houthi rebels. The United States continues to work with the Saudi-led Coalition in an effort to reduce and minimize civilian casualties in this conflict. The Saudi government is taking measures to improve its targeting processes and has also adopted mechanisms for investigating alleged incidents of civilian casualties and addressing them operationally, as appropriate.

The Saudis have agreed to receive training from U.S. forces on Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and best practices for preventing civilian casualties. Planned training events for the Royal Saudi Air Force and other Saudi security forces will specifically include further training on the LOAC and air-to-ground targeting processes.

Future bilateral and multi-lateral training is designed to improve the Saudi security forces’ understanding of identifying, targeting and engaging correct targets while minimizing collateral damage and civilian casualties.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.