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Friday, April 13, 2018

Saudi Arabia to Procure Spanish Corvettes

Saudi Arabia has finalized a purchase of Spanish corvettes.

After a negotiating period lasting over two years, Riyadh completed a 'framework agreement' for the acquisition of five Avante 2200 corvettes, built by Spanish firm Navantia. Naval Today reported that the deal was completed during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to Spain. The contract is worth about $2.5 billion.

The two sides had held high-profile meetings over the potential sale over the last few years. Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia reported on the deal in January 2016, saying that the talks, involving Avante 2200 corvettes, were in the "final phase."

The contract will be completed over the course of the next five years, according to Navantia. No formal timeline for delivery of the warships was released.

Naval Today noted, "Defense cooperation agreements signed between the two sides include arrangements for the Spanish Army to train Saudi military personnel in addition to setting out a plan for the establishment of a naval construction center in Saudi Arabia."

Navantia has also partnered with Saudi Arabian Military Industries to launch a joint venture whose initial focus will be the corvette deal but will thereafter seek to support other Saudi naval programs. The effort is part of Saudi Arabia's 'Vision 2030', which aims to localize as much defense activity as possible to improve the Saudi industry and lessen dependence on foreign suppliers.

Rights groups had worked to pressure Spain during the negotiating phase, with Amnesty International specifically calling on Spain to stop the sale in a report in November 2016 that highlighted the humanitarian situation in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition to oust Ansar Allah, a rebel group, from the capital Sana'a.

Four humanitarian agencies, including Amnesty International, issued a statement this week aiming to block the sale's completion.

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