State Dept. approves $525 million aerostat sale to Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency reports that Saudi Arabia is seeking aerostat surveillance systems from the United States.
By Richard Tomkins   |   Updated Jan. 24, 2017 at 1:49 PM

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale of Persistent Threat Detection System aerostats to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The proposed sale under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program carries an estimated value of $525 million.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages the FMS program, said in its notification to Congress that Saudi Arabia's procurement of the aerostat "will improve Saudi Arabia's capability to meet current and future threats and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure."

The 74K Persistent Threat Detection System Aerostat is a helium-filled, lighter-than-air system developed by Lockheed Martin to provide ground troops with long range intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications assistance. The tethered balloon carries a variety of sensors and payloads.

The possible sale to Saudi Arabia is for 10 systems; 14 ground moving target indicator radars; 26 MX-20 electro-optic infrared cameras; and 10 communications intelligence sensors.

Mooring systems with powered tether with embedded fiber optics, ground control systems, and associated installation hardware would also be part of the deal.

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