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Expert Analysis: Saudi Arabia Is Getting More THAAD and Patriot Missiles

Houthis North Korea
THAAD Missile Defense Battery Firing. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

The U.S. State Department recently greenlit two major sales of weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth billions of dollars.

Both sales concerned advanced anti-aircraft or area defense weapons. Saudi Arabia is getting hundreds of Patriot missiles to replenish its stocks, while the United Arab Emirates is getting almost a hundred Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles and supporting equipment.

The sales come at a point when the influence of America in the Middle East is being threatened by near-peer adversaries China and Russia.

THAAD and Patriot

The two sales are worth a combined $5.25 billion.

More specifically, for 96 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) System Missiles, 2 THAAD Fire Control and Communication Stations, and 2 THAAD Tactical Operations Stations, the United Arab Emirates will be paying about $2.245 billion.

“The proposed sale will improve the UAE’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats in the region, and reduce dependence on U.S. forces. The UAE will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces, as it currently employs the THAAD system,” the State Department said in a press release.

And for 300 PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) and related equipment, Saudi Arabia will be paying $3.05 billion.

Geopolitical Games

The press releases for the two sales were pretty much similar in content and structure, following a trusted blueprint for such announcements. However, there was some slight change in language that signaled the different relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region,” the State Department stated about the sale of the Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia, adding that the sale will help protect “Saudi, International, and U.S. citizens,” of which there are approximately 70,000 in Saudi Arabia.

But in the text about the sale of the THAAD missile rounds to the United Arab Emirates, the State Department reiterated the above but added that Abu Dhabi is a vital U.S. partner in terms of “political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

The Patriot missiles are intended to help Saudi Arabia defend its airspace from unmanned aerial systems and ballistic missiles launched by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of nations in support of the Yemeni government, which has been fighting a civil war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for close to a decade now.

Patriot Missile

Image: Creative Commons.

The sale of the Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia comes at a rocky time for the relationship between Washington D.C. and the Kingdom.

In August alone, the U.S. has sold approximately $20 billion worth of weapon systems to various allies and partners.

Expert Biography: 1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

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