Saudi Shopping List for Russian Arms Grows

Fresh off a deal with Venezuela, Russia’s weapons maker appears to have its next willing customer in Saudi Arabia.

First reported in English language press on August 29 (Interfax via Bloomberg), we now have significantly more detail on the slow-drip revelation of an upcoming Saudi arms purchase from Russia.

What began as a $2 billion deal involving “150 helicopters, more than 150 battle tanks, about 250 infantry carriers and several dozen air-defense systems” has now become the following, according to Interfax via UPI earlier this month and yesterday, and Gulf News:

  • 30 Mi-35 attack helicopters 
  • Up to 120 Mi-171B multipurpose transport helicopters
  • 150 T-90s battle tanks 
  • 250 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles
  • The “air-defense” system in question appears to be the S-400, said to have twice the target range of the US Patriot counterpart and capable of intercepting and knocking down airborne targets at distances of up to 250 miles. Each S-400 system includes at least eight launchers, 32 missiles and a mobile command post.

Saudi Arabia’s defense budget is forecast to increase next year to $44 billion up from $33 billion this year.

Anyone want to give an over/under on how long it takes for this to catch the attention of the U.S. government? Better yet, how about odds on who’s first to say anything about it – the White House, the State Department or the Defence Department?