The U.S. State Department on Friday approved a possible sale of hundreds of Guided Bomb Units (GBU) worth $130 million to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a foreign military sale package. The bomb units will also be accompanied by associated equipment and parts, along with technical and logistical support, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced.
“The Government of the United Arab Emirates has requested a possible sale of 500 GBU-31B/B(V)1 (MK-84/BLU-117) bombs, 500 GBU-31B/B(V)3 (BLU-109) bombs, and 600 GBU-12 (MK-82/BLU-111) bombs,” DSCA said in a statement. According to the agency, the package also includes containers, repair parts, support equipment, technical documentation, training equipment and other logistics support services.
The proposed sale of GBUs and other equipment is expected to provide UAE with additional munitions capability to better counter the threat posed by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and the Iran-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to DSCA.
“The UAE continues to provide host-nation support of vital U.S. forces stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base and plays a vital role in supporting U.S. regional interests. The UAE has proven to be a valued partner and an active participant in coalition operations,” the statement said, adding that Boeing and Raytheon Missile Systems would be the principal contractors for the sale.
The UAE reportedly joined forces with Jordan to launch airstrikes against ISIS earlier this year. A squadron of UAE fighter planes had been deployed to a Jordanian air base to help the kingdom in its fight against the extremist militant group.
The UAE is also part of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which has been conducting airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen since late March.
The U.S. State Department recently approved a proposed $1.9 billion deal, allowing Saudi Arabia to purchase 10 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters. The deal also included 380 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets as well as missiles, radar, navigation systems and other targeting equipment.
The move comes in the backdrop of U.S. President Barack Obama's recent pledge to “ironclad commitment” to protect America’s Gulf state allies, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, from Iran.
“Let me underscore, the United States keeps our commitments,” Obama said during a press conference from Camp David on May 14. He added that “the United States will stand by our [Gulf Cooperation Council] partners against external attacks. … We want to make sure that this is not just a photo op but a concrete series of steps.”