Russia has managed to sell Saudi
Arabia $4 billion worth of weapons. Half of that is for 100 Mi-35 and Mi-17
helicopters. The Mi35 is the export version of the most recent Mi24. This is a
twelve ton helicopter gunship that also has a cargo area that can hold up to
eight people, or four stretchers. The Mi24 can carry rockets, missiles bombs
and automatic cannon. It is used by over thirty countries, and has a pretty
good reputation for reliability. The design is based on the earlier Mi-8
transport helicopter. Thus the Mi-17 is also a 12 ton helicopter, but without
all the gunship stuff. It can carry 2.6 tons of cargo, or up to 24 troops. The
Saudis are paying about $20 million per helicopter, which is on the high end
for these models. So it appears that these choppers will come with all
available accessories, maintenance contracts and the like.
$500 million buys 150 T-90 tanks. These are the Russian equivalent of the U.S.
M-1, but are really very souped up T-72s. Certainly sufficient to deal with
local foes (like the Iranians.) At about $3 million each, they are nearly half
the cost of a late model M-1. The remaining items include over a hundred BMP-3
infantry vehicles, and twenty Buk M2E anti-aircraft missile systems (these are
the latest version of the SAM-6, that proved so effective in the 1973 Arab
Israeli war). The M2E missiles weigh 720 pounds each and have a max range of 50
kilometers. Four missiles are carried on a tracked vehicle. A target
acquisition radar has a range of over 150 kilometers.
Arabia has been on a weapons buying spree since September 11, 2001, the Saudis
have been spending $15-20 billion a year on weapons. Most of the sales go to