The US Army awarded Sikorsky, a leading American aircraft manufacturer based in Connecticut, a contract worth nearly $200 million to supply 17 Black Hawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia.
The terms of the “firm-fixed-price” agreement between the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, and the army were announced Thursday by the Department of Defense, presstv reported.
Saudi Arabia is expected to receive eight UH-60Ms for the kingdom’s National Guard, while the other nine helicopters will go to the Royal special security forces.
The UH-60M Black Hawk, a medium-lift, rotary-wing helicopter, has been in use by military forces around the world since it was first introduced in 1979.
It has multi-mission capabilities and can be used in combat search-and-rescue, airborne assault, command-and-control, medical evacuation, search-and-rescue, disaster relief and fire-fighting.
Sikorsky will begin work under the $193.8 million deal to manufacture the helicopters with an estimated completion date of the end of 2022.
The deal comes as the US is under pressure to suspend its arms sales to the Saudi regime, which has been waging a deadly military aggression against Yemen since 2015.
During his first trip to Saudi Arabia last year, US President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis, with options to sell up to $350 billion over a decade.
Facilitated by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the massive package includes missiles, bombs, armored personnel carriers, combat ships, terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missile systems and munitions.
The announcement generated backlash in Congress, with Republican Senator Rand Paul promising to work to block at least parts of the package.
The Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions on American arms sales to boost the country's weapons industry.
The move seeks to ease export rules for military equipment "from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery," according to officials familiar with the plan.
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,500 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.
Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
The World Health Organisation has also reported that almost 500 cases of diphtheria are suspected in Yemen.
The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed over 2,200 lives and has infected about one million people, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia.
Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.