Saudi Arabia

Defence experts are expressing doubts over the United States' decision to deploy additional troops, Patriot missiles and high-performance radar to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of deadly drone and missile attacks on major oil facilities there. 

The deployment would involve one battery of the surface-to-air Patriot missiles and four Sentinel radars used for air and missile defence systems, media reports said, citing the US Department of Defense.


However, experts have expressed serious doubts on the capability of these defence systems against potential drone attacks, as existing US systems are not designed to check the kind of low-flying drones or cruise missiles used in the oil facility attacks.

While Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of billions on US defence equipment, especially on missiles, it failed to prevent the recent attacks.

However, the Pentagon has a different view. While the existing Saudi radars are only able to conduct surveillance in one direction at a time, the three-dimensional Sentinel radars constantly rotate to watch for threats from all directions.

"This deployment will augment the Kingdom's air and missile defence of critical military and civilian infrastructure," Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. "It is important to note these steps are a demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East."


"Other countries have called out Iranian misadventures in the region," Hoffman said, adding: "We look for them to contribute assets in an international effort to reinforce Saudi Arabia's defense."


Fading Goodwill


Another major hurdle faced by Saudi in its efforts to gain support from US administration for strengthening its defence system is the fading goodwill of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman among American senators.

The recent actions of the Saudi ruler, including his alleged involvement in the gruesome murder of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, have tarnished the image of the Saudi crown prince and adversely affected the goodwill enjoyed by him in the United States.

The US has blamed Iran for the drone and cruise missile attacks, which heavily damaged two Saudi oil installations, forcing the key oil supplier to slash output.