In a move highlighting the US’s role in the Middle East, the US State Department has given the green light to a $250m (SR937.5m)blanket order training sale to Saudi Arabia. The decision is aimed at bolstering the Kingdom’s defence readiness.

The proposed sale includes various training and logistical support, primarily geared towards enhancing the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF). 

The timing of the decision comes amidst heightened tensions in the region, with ongoing conflicts and geopolitical rivalries shaping dynamics across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabian defence spending has historically been sustained by strong fiscal reserves, supported by proceeds from its oil exports, which has allowed the country to accumulate robust emergency fiscal reserves and sustain robust defence spending. Saudi Arabia’s future defence expenditure is driven by national security concerns, regional power dynamics, military modernisation, defence partnerships, energy infrastructure protection, and regional instability in the Middle East, according to GlobalData’s “Saudi Arabia Defense Market 2023-2028” report.

The proposed sale, subject to congressional approval, underscores the balancing act of US foreign policy in the Middle East. As Washington navigates competing interests and regional dynamics, approving the blanket order training sale to Saudi Arabia has highlighted this.

Saudi Arabia maintains strong defence ties with the US and procured substantial equipment from the country during the historic period. Saudi Arabia consistently allocated an average of 26% of the country’s total defence budget to acquisition expenditure during 2019–23. As a result of increasing defence expenditure, Saudi Arabia’s per capita defence expenditure increased from $1618.6 in 2019 to $1947.7 in 2023 and is expected to increase further to reach $2,278.5 in 2028, GlobalData’s intelligence on the Saudi Arabian defence market highlights. 

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In late April 2024, Saudi Arabia also announced a $65.8m maintenance contract with Pratt & Whitney for the F100 engines powering its fleet of F-15 Eagles. Pratt & Whitney will provide spare parts and engine services.