Potential $20 Billion U.S. Naval Sale to Saudi Arabia

Triton

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"Industry: Potential $20 Billion U.S. Naval Sale to Saudi Arabia Picking Up Steam"
by: Sam LaGrone
February 19, 2015 4:11 PM

Source:
http://news.usni.org/2015/02/19/industry-potential-20-billion-u-s-naval-sale-to-saudi-arabia-picking-up-steam

The $20 billion dollar recapitalization of Saudi Arabia’s eastern fleet is beginning to pick up steam again after several years of being a dormant U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, several U.S. shipbuilding industry officials have told USNI News.

The FMS case for the replacement of the Royal Saudi Navy’s Eastern Fleet of aging American warships – Saudi Naval Expansion Program II (SNEP II) – has been languishing for years as the Saudis and Americans negotiate the requirements for the ships.

But several industry officials have told USNI News there maybe some movement toward finalizing requirements for the ship deal that would be a welcome boon to U.S. shipbuilders faced with tight Pentagon budgets.

“It does seem to me that there seems to be some renewed interest in moving forward and [creating] a more realistic view of requirements that would be more suitable to their navy and the areas that they operate,” Dale P. Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training (MST), told USNI News during an interview on Wednesday.
“I sense things are starting to gel a little bit but nothing concrete, there’s no [Request for Proposal] on the street or anything.”

Other industry sources told USNI News they expect a RFP for the replacement of the Eastern Fleet in the coming months.

Potential movement on the FMS case follows a December contract award for Lockheed Martin MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) that included a set-aside for Saudi Arabia in the amount of approximately $93.8 million. The launchers are used to fire missiles from U.S. guided missile cruisers and destroyers, the new Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations and in U.S. allied navy ships.

The Saudi’s currently do not use the MK-41 systems in any of their ships.

The U.S. Navy International Program Office (NIPO) did not provide details on the MK-41 sale to USNI News saying the office wouldn’t comment on ongoing FMS cases.

Lockheed, Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) builder Austal USA, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) have all expressed interest in the SNEP II program.

What ships will be needed for the buy have yet to be determined.

“What kind of requirement do they really need given all the other things that they have and have aspirations for and their ability to man the ship and fight the ship?” Bennett said.

“The requirements have been moving around, [It’s been] let’s go to a DDG-51 for awhile, [then] let’s go back to an LCS.”

Lockheed will likely offer a version of the Freedom-class LCS. In response to a question on SNEP II on Wednesday, company officials said they had recently met with unspecified countries to discuss the capabilities of an international Freedom variant.

Austal has previously told USNI News they were interested in the business with a version of the Independence.

USNI News understands that HII is pitching variant of its Legend-class cutter built for the U.S. Coast Guard – billed as a patrol frigate.

In 2011, reports indicated that the Saudis were interested in acquiring Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51), which would make BIW a competitor as well.

The program is not just ships and will likely include improvements to the Saudi Eastern Fleet’s homeport in Jubail on the Persian Gulf.

“This massive purchase could include destroyers, patrol craft, helicopters, ground vehicles and other platforms, as well as warehouses and substantial upgrades to port infrastructure,” read an October U.S. Army Corps of Engineers briefing.
 

TomS

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I'm not sure why Saudi Arabia even bothers with this stuff. They've had two older generations of major combatants (the Al Madinh and Al Riyahd frigates) that they couldn't use effectively. What good does it do to buy yet another generation of expensive harbor queens?
 

Triton

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There appears to be a buying binge of military hardware among the Persian Gulf monarchies:

"On Edge, Persian Gulf Monarchies Step Up Defense Spending"
Interest goes beyond usual hardware as customers seek ways to counter Internet-savvy militants and track disparate factions on the ground
by
Robert Wall And Rory Jones
Updated Feb. 20, 2015 1:18 p.m. ET

Source:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-middle-east-threats-drive-regional-defense-spending-1424442694

ABU DHABI—Facing a host of military threats, the oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have been boosting outlays for defense equipment—providing a shot in the arm for Western arms suppliers facing government cutbacks in much of the rest of the world.

Lower oil prices may eventually damp the buying binge, as they did during a price slump in 1999. But for now, weapon sales to Middle East buyers, chief among them Saudi Arabia, are booming.

Riyadh spent $80.8 billion on defense last year, up almost 43% from just two years earlier and trailing only the U.S. and China, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The four biggest Persian Gulf defense customers—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar—spent a total $109.9 billion in 2014, up from almost 44% from 2012.

Fueling demand from the Arab monarchies are new military challenges in the region, including the threat posed byIslamic State and other militant groups, and continuing concerns about Iran’s regional ambitions.

“The pressure to spend is much higher than it was in the late 1990s,” said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Middle East countries “see so many different threats coming from so many directions,” he said.
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Jordan and Bahrain, as well as the U.A.E., Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, have conducted airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria, sometimes in partnership with U.S. forces. Egypt recently joined the fray, sending war planes against Islamic State elements in Libya, after a video purported to show the execution of more than a dozen Egyptians by the group there.

Executives from U.S. and European defense contractors, as well as competitors such as China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp., and Brazil’s Embraer SA, are gathering in Abu Dhabi this weekend to show off their wares at the International Defence & Exhibition Conference, a U.A.E. trade show that has grown in importance in recent years as Mideast buyers open their wallets.

The new threats have piqued interest in equipment beyond the usual shopping list of fighter jets, tanks and guns. Mideast customers are looking for ways to counter Internet-savvy militants, or track groups’ disparate factions on the ground. They are also buying more sophisticated antimissile systems to counter Iran.

Last year, Saudi Arabia put in an order for as many as eight Spydr aircraft, a relatively small spy plane made by L-3 Communications Holding Inc. The U.S. used a similar system in Afghanistan to track Taliban insurgents and find roadside bombs.

“The demand for that platform in the region is great given what’s going on,” said Michael T. Strianese , chief executive of New York-based L-3.

Interest in cybersecurity tools and domestic security equipment also is rising as states look to counter insurgent threats. European aviation and defense giant Airbus Group NV said last month it won a contract from Lebanon’s interior ministry for a secure radio system for one of the country’s intelligence agencies.

“The cyberthreat is real and growing,” said Danny E. Sebright, president of the U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council and a former U.S. Defense Department official. “Key Middle East countries are working feverishly to better protect themselves in the future.”

For many Mideast buyers, the drop in the price of oil could moderate their appetite.
 

Rickshaw

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TomS said:
I'm not sure why Saudi Arabia even bothers with this stuff. They've had two older generations of major combatants (the Al Madinh and Al Riyahd frigates) that they couldn't use effectively. What good does it do to buy yet another generation of expensive harbor queens?

Mmm, let me think? IS? Iran? Their ambitions haven't gone away...
 

TomS

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Point being, Saudi Arabia's navy, and especially the major combatants, have sat around unused and basically ineffectual for ever. Unless things have radically changed in recent years, they don't get sea time and they don't get anything close to realistic training. So basically a Saudi DDG-51 would be a billion dollar harbor decoration.

IS isn't a naval threat at all, at least of the sort that major warships can counter. Iran is never going to be a naval threat to Saudi until the US Fifth Fleet is gone, which won't happen in our lifetimes, I'm confident.
 

Rickshaw

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TomS said:
Point being, Saudi Arabia's navy, and especially the major combatants, have sat around unused and basically ineffectual for ever. Unless things have radically changed in recent years, they don't get sea time and they don't get anything close to realistic training. So basically a Saudi DDG-51 would be a billion dollar harbor decoration.

IS isn't a naval threat at all, at least of the sort that major warships can counter. Iran is never going to be a naval threat to Saudi until the US Fifth Fleet is gone, which won't happen in our lifetimes, I'm confident.

You're mistaking I think what the Saudis are purchasing these ships for. IS may not be a "naval threat" but ships can and do carry weapons which represent a threat to IS. I agree that the US Fifth Fleet will more than likely protect Saudi Arabia from Iranian threats as long as oil keeps moving out of Saudi Arabia, however, once that oil decreases or stops, then Iran will be a threat to Saudi Arabia IMO. Therefore, it's better to have the US on friendly terms than having to wait how many years for a ship to be laid down, built and launched? Governments think about such issues at multiple levels and over longer time periods than most people do.
 

kaiserbill

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Amongst the usual reason countries purchase arms, Saudi Arabia uses weapons purchase for influence and as an extension of foreign policy more than most.


Whilst this doesn't apply so much to their navy, their airforce and army inventory sometimes resembles a United Nations manufacturers list, with different platforms from different countries fulfilling the same roles...
 

isayyo2

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Thought this could use an update:


 

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The Virginia Block V tubes look full Trident D5 sized I’m assuming to carry larger hypersonic precision strike missiles?
 

isayyo2

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The Virginia Block V tubes look full Trident D5 sized I’m assuming to carry larger hypersonic precision strike missiles?
I believe the Virginia Payload Module tubes and SSGN tubes have always been intended for vehicles larger than Tomahawk. Things like HyStrike/Fasthawk, naval-ized ATACMS, Conventional Prompt Strike, and what ever black projects we don't know about yet.
 

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The thing is that any tubes in a SSN or SSGN can't be large enough to accept a full-sized SLBM for treaty reasons. Otherwise you run into treaty issues and the ship is counted against totaal number of strategic launch systems, whethet it's carry nukes or not. When the four Ohios were transfored into SSGNs the tubes were permanently segmented so that SLBMs could not be loaded. Similarly, the Virginia Payload Module tube is built internally segmented so an SLBM won't fit; instead you could put in, say, seven Tomahawks
 

TomS

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The thing is that any tubes in a SSN or SSGN can't be large enough to accept a full-sized SLBM for treaty reasons. Otherwise you run into treaty issues and the ship is counted against totaal number of strategic launch systems, whethet it's carry nukes or not. When the four Ohios were transfored into SSGNs the tubes were permanently segmented so that SLBMs could not be loaded. Similarly, the Virginia Payload Module tube is built internally segmented so an SLBM won't fit; instead you could put in, say, seven Tomahawks

This is kinda true but not the way you're describing. What they did to the SSGN tubes was block the bottom end so that they're too short to hold a Trident. The VPT/VPM tubes are just shorter, so a Trident won't fit them either. None of them have any other internal subdivisions -- MACs are unitary cylinders that slide right into the tube. Which is why the same tubes could also take modified MACs with different numbers of weapons (IRBMs, CPS, etc) or even very large unmanned vehicles that would fill the whole 87-inch diameter tube.
 
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Moose

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And there's no way to fit a 44 1/2 foot long missile in a 34-foot-diameter SSN hull without somebody noticing something is fishy.
 

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