Saudi Arabia is negotiating the purchase of S-400 air defense systems and Su-35 jets with Russia, three years after the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement.
“Until we sign the contracts, we are not talking about this … The negotiation process is underway,” Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec, said during an interview with RT.
Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has an ambitious goal of producing 50% of defense equipment by 2030. Partnerships with Russia in this field include transfer of technology for the local production of S-400 missile system, Kornet-EM system, TOS-1A “Solntsepёk” heavy flamethrower systems (a Soviet 220mm 30-barrel or 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis), AGS-30 automatic grenade launcher and Kalashnikov AK-103 rifles. A Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to this was signed in October 2017.
In February 2019, Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) said Russia and Saudi Arabia are discussing the conditions for activating the S-400 contract. Two months later, a source told Interfax that Russia had begun supplying TOS-1A systems to Riyadh. The two parties are now setting up a joint Kalashnikov assault rifles manufacturing facility.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had approved the sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile systems, S-400’s competitor, to Saudi Arabia. With the new Biden administration reportedly having frozen the sale of weapons to Saudi, it may seek other alternatives.