Riyadh requests $25.6bn worth of US helicopters

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Saudi Arabia could acquire more than 150 new helicopters from the USA under acquisitions worth a combined $25.6 billion, Washington has announced.

Details of the possible massive order were outlined by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 20 October. Riyadh could buy 72 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk transports (below), plus 36 AH-6i light attack helicopters and 36 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbows from Boeing and 12 MD Helicopters MD530s, it says.

 
© US Army

In addition to the aircraft, the potential Foreign Military Sales deal would also cover the provision of 243 General Electric T700-701D engines and air-launched weapons, plus simulators, personnel training and spare and repair parts, the DSCA says.

Saudi Arabia already operates 12 AH-64As, and has a confirmed order for 12 D-model Apaches, says Flightglobal's HeliCAS database. The DSCA says the 36 aircraft included in a new deal would be operated by the Saudi National Guard.

 
© Boeing

"The proposed sale will provide for the defence of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces," it says.

Riyadh also already operates the Black Hawk in Sikorsky's earlier S-70A configuration, and has 48 UH-60Ls on order. Its armed forces do not use either the AH-6 Little Bird or the MD530.

The potential helicopter sale was announced on the same day that the DSCA outlined a possible $29.4 billion deal to equip the Royal Saudi Air Force with 84 Boeing F-15SAs and to upgrade its 70 F-15Ss.