A second letter of request from the Saudi government detailing requirements for the Eastern Fleet replacement program was delivered to the US Navy in February, barely a month after an initial request (LoR) was sent, according to sources here at the International Defence Exposition show.
The move highlights a heightened pace in developments related to the Saudi Naval Expansion Program, a project that could be worth as much as US $16 billion.
Competition has been fierce between French suppliers, who hold the preponderance of contracts in support of Saudi Arabia’s western, or Red Sea fleet, and the US. Transmission of the LoRs to the US Navy’s International Program Office could indicate the Saudis are leaning strongly toward a US buy.
If so, the Eastern Fleet plan also offers the strongest potential case yet for the first foreign sale of a version of the US Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS).
The February LoR offered a few more details and clarified some issues from the January document, sources said. As before, the Saudis did not list specific ship designs, but rather gave guidelines for their requirements. Among the highlights: