WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
Saudi Arabia is seeking to buy $2 billion worth of M-1A2 tanks beyond the 315 the United States agreed to sell the kingdom last year, the U.S. company that makes the tanks said Thursday.
Donald Gilleland, spokesman for General Dynamics’ Land Systems Division in Sterling Heights, Mich., said rumors to that effect are “correct,” and that the Saudis are seeking 385 additional tanks, for a total of 700.
“It is a discussion ongoing between the two governments, but we understand that the Saudi Arabian government is interested in another 385 M-1A2s,” Gilleland said.
Saudi Arabia’s Embassy declined to comment.
Speculation about the possibility of such a sale, worth $2 billion, comes a week after the Saudis concluded the earlier deal of tanks and other weaponry, worth $3.1 billion, which sailed through Congress last fall without opposition.
Also, it comes a week after Congress declined to block a $4 billion sale to the Saudis of 2,000 TOW anti-tank missiles, 1,117 light armored vehicles, upgrades for AWACS reconnaissance planes and other weaponry.
Pro-Israel groups did not fight either the $3.1 billion or $4 billion sales, on the rationale that none of the weaponry directly threatens Israel’s security.
But they may be more active next year, when Saudi Arabia is expected to seek to upgrade its aging air force with U.S. F-15 fighter planes made by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co. of St. Louis, or F-16s made by General Dynamics’ Fort Worth, Texas, division.