KUWAIT: The government has asked the National Assembly for KD 6.2 billion ($20.5 billion) in additional funds for defense purchases over the next 10 years, local media and a minister said yesterday. Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower amid increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the jihadist Islamic State group. The state is a member of the US-led coalition that has been bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq since last year and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. But it is unclear if the additional funds are also linked to that.

State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah told reporters a bill has been sent to parliament requesting the additional funds, but he declined to specify the amount. Local dailies Al-Qabas and Al-Rai reported yesterday that the amount is KD 6.2 billion. The Assembly is expected to review the request soon. The government does not publish specific figures for its defense budget.

Several reports have recently linked Kuwait to several arms deals amid regional turmoil. The Eurofighter consortium said in September Kuwait agreed to buy 28 Typhoon warplanes in a deal worth €7-8 billion ($8-9 billion). Last month, Kuwait signed €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) worth of fixed and provisional military deals led by the purchase of 24 Airbus-built Caracal helicopters. Paris said Kuwait would purchase the helicopters for €1.0 billion, with an option for a further six. Further deals included provision of French light armored vehicles and patrol boat maintenance. – AFP