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04:12 PM, May 3, 2017
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Saudi Arabia Could Insist on Locally-made Spares For Imported Military Hardware
Saudi Defence Minister Prince Salman

Saudi Arabia could insist that spares for imported military hardware should be made within the country marking a major policy shift for one of the biggest arms importers in the world.

No contract for the supply of weapons would be concluded if production of spare parts took place in any other country and not in Saudi Arabia, according to the country's Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

"We are working on endorsing production of military products. We focus on increasing production for the needs of the military industry." Price Salman's comments were part of a televised interview yesterday given to MBC Broadcaster and quoted by various media.

Riyadh wants to create more jobs within the country and also make it a hub for defence equipment manufacturing. Neighbouring UAE has found considerable success in setting up local manufacturing facilities with international defence contractors.

Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest customers of American military hardware and the only country outside of NATO and Israel to receive the latest US weapons. In addition to spending on new weapons, Riyadh spends a considerable sum in buying spares and life-cycle support from US defence contractors.

Price Salman's comments could be seen in the light of US President Donald Trump's comments that the Gulf state was not paying for US military support. "Frankly, Saudi Arabia has not treated us fairly, because we are losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia," he said.

By insisting on local manufacture of spares, Riyadh could lower cost of ownership and create high tech industries and jobs.

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