Saudi companies to make parts for Lockheed’s THAAD defence system

US weapons maker Lockheed Martin has signed agreements for Saudi Arabian companies to manufacture parts of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

These sub-contracts will enhance manufacturing capabilities in Saudi Arabia and transfer expertise to strengthen the country’s defense industry.

State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed 11 agreements at the Saudi defence show in Riyadh.

The contracts come at time of rising tension in the region as some shipping companies suspended transit along the busy Red Sea route to avoid being attacked by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi group.

The Houthis have launched waves of exploding drones and missiles at vessels since November in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

The Biden administration has maintained backing for the Saudis to receive a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system first approved in 2017 to counter ballistic missile threats.

The prime partners of Lockheed Martin’s deal that will receive sub-contracts include Middle East Propulsion Company (MEPC) and Arabian International Company (AIC) for Steel, the firm added in statement.

In a separate deal, Boeing Saudi Arabia and Bahri Logistics, a unit of the country’s national shipping company, signed a strategic MoU that envisages boosting supply chain activities in the country and enhancing Bahri’s support for services and defence-related products.