DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia signed a deal with the local unit of U.S. weapons maker Raytheon on Saturday to localize maintenance of its Patriot missile defense system, as part of efforts to boost Saudi's defense industries and its broader economy.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to diversify the kingdom away from its reliance on oil exports and wants Riyadh to produce or assemble half its defense equipment locally, aiming to create 40,000 jobs for Saudis by 2030.
Saudi Arabia is among the top five defense spenders in the world. It is one of several U.S. allies to use Patriot, a ground to air missile system giving defense against ballistic missiles and other threats.
Ahmed al-Ohali, governor of Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), said the agreement with Raytheon reflected the authority's efforts to develop Saudi's military industries and its research and technology capabilities, state news agency SPA reported.
He did not say how many jobs would be involved, the value of the agreement, or the location of any work being moved or localized.
Riyadh-based Raytheon Saudi Arabia supports the Kingdom's Vision 2030 economic program by creating skilled jobs for Saudis in defense, aerospace and cybersecurity through partnerships with Saudi private sector companies and local universities, according to the company's website.
(Reporting by Tuqa Khalid; Editing by David Holmes)