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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to tour Lockheed Martin California complex this week

Key Points
  • Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson and tour the defense giant's Sunnyvale, California, complex this week.
  • Viewing Lockheed Martin's THAAD missile defense system is one of the key highlights of the young prince's tour.
  • Saudi Arabia's oil-rich monarchy is one of the U.S.' most important strategic partners in the Middle East and a significant patron of U.S. defense companies.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson and tour the defense giant's complex in the heart of Silicon Valley this week.

The 32-year-old prince is slated to meet with executives representing various programs in the company's portfolio and participate in facility tours in Sunnyvale, California, a senior Lockheed Martin official said on the condition of anonymity.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the top clients of the Bethesda, Maryland-based defense contractor. Last year, the Saudis expressed intent to procure more than $28 billion worth of Lockheed Martin combat ships, aircraft and missile defense systems over the next 10 years.

"This week, we will continue our dialogue on the procurement opportunities and discuss how Lockheed Martin is helping the Saudi government realize His Majesty's Vision 2030 objective of building its domestic technology capabilities and skilled workforce," the senior Lockheed Martin official said, without confirming the exact date of the prince's visit.

What's more, the upcoming visit will be the third time in the past two weeks that the crown prince has met with Hewson.

During his time at Lockheed Martin's Sunnyvale complex, the young Saudi prince will be given a briefing on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system.

THAAD is one of the key elements in the U.S. military's layered ballistic missile defense. It is one of most advanced missile systems on the planet and can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky from its truck-based launcher.

The interceptors fired from THAAD's launcher do not carry warheads and instead use pure kinetic energy to deliver "hit to kill" strikes to ballistic threats.

Marillyn Hewson, the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin.
Carl Court | AFP | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in purchasing 44 THAAD launchers along with the platform's interceptors and radars at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

The Saudis would be the second international buyer following the United Arab Emirates' acquisition in 2012.

Late last month, President Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia's defense acquisitions before he met with the crown prince at the White House.

"Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they're going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world," Trump said during the Oval Office talks.

The crown prince, likewise, added that last year's Saudi pledge of $200 billion in investments will rise to approximately $400 billion and that a 10-year window to implement the deal was already underway.

Saudi Arabia's oil-rich monarchy is one of the U.S.' most important strategic partners in the Middle East and a significant patron of U.S. defense companies.

In the past nine months alone, the U.S. has secured $54 billion in foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia.