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Saudi navy opts for MBDA SAM for Multi-Mission Surface Combatants

A CAMM is ejected from a modified Mk 41 launcher during a test. (MBDA)

The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) has selected MBDA, rather than Raytheon, to provide the primary surface-to-air missile (SAM) for its new frigates, the US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed on 31 January.

It announced that MBDA's US subsidiary had been awarded a USD118.7 million non-competitive contract to deliver its Common Anti-Air Module Missile (CAMM) for Saudi Arabia's Multi-Mission Surface Combatants (MSSCs), which are being built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, with Lockheed Martin acting as prime contractor. Most of the work will be carried out at MBDA's plant in Stevenage in the UK, and the contract includes options that, if exercised, will bring its total value up to USD145.5 million.

When the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in 2015 that Saudi Arabia's procurement of four MSSCs had been approved, it said they would be equipped with Raytheon's RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSMs) in two eight-cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems (VLSs), in addition to SeaRAM close-in weapon systems for RIM-116C Block II Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAMs).

However, during the Euronaval exhibition held in Paris in October 2022, Lockheed Martin said the Saudi ships would be armed with the CAMM, not the ESSM, carried in a single eight-cell VLS rather than two.

State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) announced in March 2022 that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with MBDA, saying the agreement covered a missile maintenance centre that would be established in the kingdom. A SAMI spokesperson told Janes there were also plans to locally produce CAMM and CAMM-Extended Range (CAMM-ER) missiles.

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