US transfers Patriot air defense missile systems to Saudi Arabia to counter aerial attacks


According to information published by "The Wall Street Journal" website on March 21, 2022, the United States has transferred an undisclosed number of Patriot air defense missile systems to Saudi Arabia within the past month to counter aerial attacks.
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U.S. Army Spc. Pedro Rosario-Roche, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment patriot launching station enhanced operator and maintainer, performs a maintenance check on a MiM-104 Patriot. (Picture source U.S. DoD)


In February 202, 16 people of different nationalities were wounded at an airport in the south as a result of the interception and destruction of a drone carrying explosives launched from Yemen. The drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels were targeting King Abdullah Airport in the Saudi city of Jizan, near the border with Yemen. Saudi defense forces allege the drone was launched from Sanaa's airport in the Yemeni capital.

This is not the first time that drones have been used to carry out attacks on Saudi territory, in January 2022, a similar attempted drone attack and interception resulted in 12 people being wounded at an airport in the southern Saudi region of Abha, also near the kingdom’s border with Yemen.

Since July 2018, when the Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates was attacked with a large UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), there have been more than one hundred attacks by unmanned systems against commercial airports and military barracks in the Middle East and North Africa.

Saudi Arabia has requested the help of the United States with the supply of air defense systems to increase its air defense against drone and missile attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.

Citing the Military Balance 2021, the Saudi Armed Forces are already equipped with the American air defense missile systems MIM-104E/F Patriot PAC-2 GEM-T/PAC-3 variants as well as 35mm 128 GDF Oerlikon weapon systems for short-range air defense.

Patriot is a mobile air and missile defense system that counters missile and aircraft threats. The system includes a C-band phased-array radars for detecting, tracking, classifying, identifying, and discriminating targets, battalion and battery battle management elements, Communications Relay Groups and Antenna Mast Groups for communicating between battery and battalion assets and a mix of PAC-3 hit-to-kill missiles and PAC-2 blast fragmentation warhead missiles for negating missile and aircraft threats.

The Patriot PAC-3 missile si able to intercept and destroy incoming aerial threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft through direct body-to-body contact delivering exponentially more kinetic energy on the target than can be achieved with blast-fragmentation kill mechanisms. The missile has a maximum firing range of 40 km at a maximum altitude of 20 km.


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