Saudi Arabia has signed preliminary agreements to buy S-400 air defense systems and receive “cutting-edge technologies” from Russia as King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is on an official trip to Moscow as the first Saudi monarch to visit the European country.
Under agreements signed with Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Saudi Arabia is set to procure the anti-aircraft weapon system, the Kornet-EM anti-tank guided missile system, 220mm 24-barrel TOS-1A multiple rocket launcher as well as AGS-30 Atlant automatic grenade launcher, the state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) said in a statement on Thursday.
SAMI, however, did not provide any information about the number of the systems or the value of the deal.
These contracts are “expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia,” the statement read.
The Saudi Arabian Military Industries further noted that the memoranda of understanding also “include the transfer of technology for the local production” of the aforementioned military systems.
“In addition, the parties will cooperate in setting a plan to localize the manufacturing and sustainment of parts of the S-400 air defense system,” SAMI said.
Saudi and Russian military officials also agreed on the production of AK-103 automatic assault rifles and its ammunition in Saudi Arabia besides educational and training programs for Saudi nationals.
“These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contributions and create hundreds of direct jobs. They will also transfer cutting-edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localizing 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending,” SAMI said.
A number of other deals have been signed during King Salman’s four-day visit to Russia, which started on Wednesday.
There are reports that Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco, is discussing several investment opportunities with Russian producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“LNG is one of the areas where we are looking for partners in Russia,” Amin H. Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.
Nasser noted that there are no current plans to take a stake in the Novatek LNG project, known as Arctic LNG-2. Novatek is Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer.
“We are not discussing this at this stage. We are looking at opportunities for working together with the different companies. But what you mention in particular – nothing from Saudi Aramco,” he said.