| WASHINGTON, June 10
WASHINGTON, June 10 The U.S. government is
revamping proposals for a multibillion-dollar modernization of
Saudi Arabia's navy after leadership changes in the kingdom, but
no decisions are expected in the near-term, industry and
government officials said this week.
Pat Dewar, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin
Corp's international division, said U.S. officials were
developing a "matrix of options" to offer Saudi Arabia, rather
than the pre-set weapons packages that had been offered before.
"It's a start to try to reengage the discussions," Dewar
told Reuters on Monday.
U.S. Navy officials are continuing to work the issue "as
hard as we can," said one source familiar with the discussions.
Senior Lockheed officials told Reuters in November they
expected news about the program in the next several
Those hopes dimmed in recent months after a series of
leadership changes in Saudi Arabia, which required a fresh
series of briefings, said the source, who was not authorized to
Saudi Arabia has been considering plans to modernize its
eastern naval fleet for years, a project valued by analysts at
around $20 billion. The U.S. proposals include possible
purchases of up to 12 of Lockheed's steel monohull Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS) or the larger DDG-51 destroyer built by
General Dynamics Corp.
Dale Bennett, the executive vice president who heads the
Lockheed mission systems and support division that builds the
LCS ships, said the company remained convinced its ship offered
the right capability for Saudi Arabia's need.
"We're hopeful that something will move forward and we're
supporting both (the U.S. and Saudi Arabian) navies in any way
we can, but it's not clear to me that anything's moving soon,"
Bennett told Reuters.
Lockheed's initial proposal included a modified version of
Lockheed's Aegis combat system, an MH-60R helicopter it builds
with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp
, a fast missile craft it designed with VT Halter Marine,
a unit of ST Engineering.
U.S. Navy officials had no immediate comment on the Saudi
naval modernization program.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal. Editing by Andre Grenon)