Saudi Arabia Approved for THAAD Buy

Saudi Arabia has been approved for a purchase of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.

The State Department announced on October 6, 2017 that it had approved a possible sale of the THAAD missile system to Saudi Arabia, at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

According to a press release, Riyadh requested 44 THAAD launchers, 360 THAAD interceptor missiles, 16 THAAD Fire Control and Communications units, and seven AN/TPY-2 radars. The potential sale includes support services.

If all these systems are procured, Saudi Arabia will have seven THAAD batteries.

The State Department noted,

This sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats.  This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region.

Earlier this summer, Defense News reported that THAAD deliveries could occur between 2023 and 2026.

The announcement of the sale’s approval came one day after Saudi Arabia announced it had inked a memorandum of understanding with Russia on the possible acquisition of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The two sides signed a number of deals during a state visit by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to Moscow, the first time a Saudi monarch has visited Russia in the kingdom’s history.

Saudi Arabia reportedly expressed its interest in purchasing four S-400 battalions at a price of $2 billion, as well as other Russian military systems like the TOS-1A multiple launch rocket system and the Kornet-EM anti-tank guided missile system.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are due to continue negotiations over the weapons package, which in total would amount to over $3.5 billion, later this month, though it is unclear if the approval of the THAAD sale will impact Riyadh’s decision to procure the S-400. Fielding a question on the subject on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated that talks on the S-400 delivery would continue.

Moscow indicated that an S-400 deal would enable Saudi Arabia to produce some components locally, but the S-400 would not be compatible with the Western systems already in service with Saudi Arabia.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

View all posts by Derek Bisaccio →