Source: Russian-Saudi military, technical cooperation could develop dynamically

Saudi Arabia, which was previously a traditional buyer of U.S. arms, could start buying in future some samples of Russian arms, a source close to the military and technical cooperation sector told Interfax-AVN on Aug. 10.

Saudi Arabia, which was previously a traditional buyer of U.S. arms, could start buying in future some samples of Russian arms, a source close to the military and technical cooperation sector told Interfax-AVN on Aug. 10.

"The stagnation situation in Russian-Saudi military and technical cooperation could change in the near future over new authorities coming to power in Riyadh recently," the source said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Defense Minister aide Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Ayesh have recently come to Russia, the source said. The delegations they headed attended the Army 2015 international military and technical forum in the Moscow region's Kubinka and the international military naval salon in St. Petersburg, where they took interest in some samples of Russian arms, the source said.

"Certain interest was shown in particular in the new Russian operative and tactical complex Iskander-3, air defense systems, helicopter equipment, Tigr corvettes of the 20382 project, small submarines and Bal-E mobile coastal defense missile systems," the source said.

This interest is unlikely to turn into real agreements in the near future, the source said. "We forecast that military and technical cooperation between our countries in the foreseeable future will develop dynamically. However, conclusion of major arms contracts in the nearest future is unlikely because Saudi Arabia oriented for many years towards purchasing firstly U.S. arms," the source said.

According to the data of Russian researcher of the military and technical cooperation sector Valentin Yurchenko, the share of U.S. arms in the Saudi army is over 80 percent, the source said.

Russia's previous attempts to overcome this situation were fruitless. It has been reported that in 2011 Rosoboronexport drafted to Riyadh a request for a major set of arms contracts worth over $4 billion, however it has not been implemented.

It was planned back then in particular to conclude at the first stage contracts worth about $2 billion. Around 150 T-90S tanks, which have been successfully tested in the Arabian Desert and showed very good results in competition with western samples, as well as approximately 150 different helicopters, up to 250 BMP-3M infantry battle vehicles, and several dozen Buk-M2E air defense systems were to be supplied to Saudi Arabia.

During the second stage it was planned to conclude agreements to supply Saudi Arabia with S-300PMU2 Favorite air defense systems, Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile and gun systems and other weapons.

"Even though those agreements were not implemented for political reasons, Saudi Arabia has not recalled the requests to purchase Russian arms yet, which can be considered as a good sign amid current conditions," the source said.

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