Saudi Arabia air defense missile is about to run out

Saudi and US officials told the Saudi army is woefully low on air defence missiles used to intercept attacks.

Saudi Arabia has appealed to the United States and its allies in Europe and the Gulf for resupplies of ammunition it uses to defend the kingdom against drone and missile attacks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday (paywall), citing US and Saudi officials.

Obviously, the joint actions of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries have not prevented the proliferation of Iranian weapons. Most of the intercepted Iranian arms ships are light weapons and ammunition, at most “358” cruise missiles, long-range rockets and anti-tank missiles. With such weapons, Iran is still handing over its own high-tech weapons such as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and suicide drones to its proxies, especially the Houthis in Yemen. The latter continues to shoot these high-tech into Saudi Arabia, including the Saudi coalition bases in Yemen and Saudi territory.

Throughout 2021, Yemen’s Houthis launched a total of 375 cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia, an average of more than one per day, and the trend is becoming more and more frequent. The targets of the attacks include both Saudi military installations and Saudi Arabia oil platform. In 2019, the Houthis launched cruise missiles and suicide drones, which severely hit Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, resulting in a sharp drop in its oil exports, which once caused price fluctuations in the international crude oil market.

Now, perhaps Iran has problems in manufacturing cruise missiles, etc. The Houthis mainly use ballistic missiles and suicide drones to attack Saudi Arabia, and the adjusted Saudi air defense network also shows increasing efficiency when dealing with these targets. But what followed was the rapid consumption of Saudi “Patriot” air defense missiles and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, even to a very dangerous level.

According to a senior U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, at the current pace of Houthi attacks, Saudi-owned Patriot air defense missiles are likely to be exhausted within a few months, even though the U.S. government has approved the sale of more missiles to Saudi Arabia. There are many “Patriot” air defense missiles and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles are in service with Saudi Arabia, but the delivery cycle cannot meet Saudi Arabia’s needs at all. If Saudi Arabia runs out of its “patriots” and cannot be replenished, it will directly paralyze its air defense network and be in a situation of passive beating. Saudi Arabia’s oil industry will be in danger of being destroyed by the Houthis.

Saudi officials told the Journal they are concerned that insufficient stocks could result in a successful missile or drone attack, costing lives in the kingdom or harming the Saudi economy by damaging its critical oil infrastructure.

Saudi Oil platform attacked by Houthis
Saudi Oil platform attacked by Houthis

On the advice of the US government, Saudi Arabia is trying to obtain Patriot missiles from its allies, including direct purchases or in-kind loans, but the number of Patriot missiles that countries such as the United Arab Emirates can provide is limited, and it has to defend itself against possible attack. Looking at it this way, if the Houthis cannot be prevented from continuing to launch ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, once the Saudi oil industry is attacked, it does not even have to be completely destroyed, it will seriously affect the global energy supply and world economic stability.

However, on the other hand, this move is also good for Saudi Arabia. Risks to energy supply and economic stability will force the United States and the European Union and other Middle East issues to support Saudi Arabia more, including strengthening. You must know that if oil prices rise, not only the United States and the European Union, but all oil importing countries in the world will be greatly affected, and the stability of global energy prices mainly depends on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. If Saudi Arabia cannot stably export to the global market Oil, the world economy will be greatly affected.

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