Air Defense: Arabs And Patriots


October 24, 2014: Saudi Arabia is buying 202 PAC 3 anti-missile missiles for its Patriot missile units. This will cost $1.75 billion and includes much support and training equipment as well as modifications to existing Saudi Patriot equipment so they can handle the Pac 3 missile. This is all about Iran and the growing threat of Iran using ballistic missiles against Arab states across the Persian Gulf.

Since the 1990s Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars on air defense systems, mainly the American Patriot system. The Saudis have bought four battalions (24 batteries) of Patriots. Each Patriot battery is manned by about a hundred troops, and contains a radar, plus four launchers.

A battery can fire two types of Patriot missile. The more expensive PAC 3 missile is smaller than the anti-aircraft version (PAC 2), thus a Patriot launcher can hold sixteen PAC 3 missiles, versus four PAC 2s. A PAC 2 missile weighs about a ton, a PAC 3 weighs about a third of that. The PAC 3 has a shorter range (about 20 kilometers (although the latest version can do 35 kilometers) versus 160 kilometers for the latest anti-aircraft version.

Patriot entered service in 1981 and since then over 1,200 launchers and more than 10,000 missiles have been produced. About ten percent of the Patriot systems were exported. These days some of the best customers are found in the Middle East.



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