Even as fresh civilian deaths were reported in a Saudi Arabian attack on Yemen, the Pentagon has approved the sale of up to 153 tanks, hundreds of machine guns and other military gear in a deal worth $1.15 billion to the country.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Monday that Saudi Arabia had requested purchase of up to 133 American M1A1/A2 Abrams tanks that would be configured to Saudi needs, plus another 20 to replace damaged tanks in their fleet.
Additionally, the deal would include 153 .50-caliber machine guns, 266 7.62mm M240 machine guns, smoke grenade launchers, armored recovery vehicles and a range of other hardware.
The US State Department has approved the “possible” sale and notified Congress on Monday, the DSCA said.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the DSCA said in a statement.
“The addition of these tanks and recovery vehicles to the (Saudi military’s) inventory will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to support its soldiers in the field and to defend the Kingdom’s borders.”
Saudi Arabia currently forms part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq and is also part of a separate Arab coalition fighting in Yemen.