Cold shoulder from the US? Saudi Arabia to rely on domestic weapons

It will invest more than $20 billion in development and manufacturing of indigenous weapons and military systems, with a goal of spending half of the defense budget locally  

A Saudi soldier in Yemen. Photo: REUTERS/Ali Owidha

Saudi Arabia is to invest over $20 billion in development of its domestic military industry during the next decade, the top regulator of the kingdom's military announced yesterday (Saturday). Reuters reports that Riyadh is interested in developing and manufacturing more indigenous weapons and military systems, with a goal of spending about 50% of the defense budget locally by 2030.  

The governor of Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Military Industries, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, said that the government's plan is to invest more than $10 billion in development, and a similar amount in manufacturing, with an intention of increasing research and development expenses from 0.2% of the military's budget to 0.4%. 

The Saudi step reflects concerns regarding the Biden administration, which is expected to take a much harder line towards the kingdom than the Trump administration, under which the Saudis could do almost anything they wanted. Earlier this month, the US suspended two large arms deals signed during Trump's term in office for the supply of precision munitions worth approximately $760 million. The munitions were intended mostly for the war being conducted by Saudi Arabia in Yemen with the Houthi rebels supported by Iran, and the American agenda is to stop its support of the kingdom in the war and bring the war to an end.