Surface Forces: Saudis Seek A Special Ship



April 12, 2011: Saudi Arabia is looking to buy surface warships equipped with the Aegis air defense and anti-missile system from an American supplier, and has asked the U.S. Department of Defense for some help in the search. No specific ship class was mentioned. This Saudi request is part of their $20 billion Saudi Naval Expansion Program-II, and the Saudis are said to be seeking something like the new American LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), but equipped with Aegis. A dozen ships are often mentioned as the size of the initial order. American shipbuilders are thinking of offering a new frigate type ship, equipped with Aegis. Currently, there are two frigate type ships equipped with Aegis. One is the 5,200 ton Norwegian Nansen class ships. The other is the 6,200 ton Spanish Bazan class. Both of these are designed for high seas operations, while the Saudis want something more suitable for the unique (sheltered, shallower and warmer) waters of the Persian Gulf. The Saudi request isn't an invitation to a competition, but it could end up that way if an acceptable (cheap and effective enough) American proposal is not forthcoming.

The Saudis are also seeking some diesel-electric submarines. There are no American suppliers for this type of sub.

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