US-made Patriot interceptor missiles. (Photo credit: CSIS)
Saudi Arabia may turn to its neighbors for financial assistance to restock its low supply of interceptor missiles made for its US-produced, Patriot air-defense equipment.
Facing increasing pressure as Ansarallah continues to target the inner regions of Saudi Arabia using drone strikes with increasing success, Riyadh is unable to match up with the frequency of strikes by the Yemeni resistance group.
In the last year, 375 cross-border attacks were waged against Saudi Arabia.
While the US would approve the transfer of the missile interceptors, with the kingdom’s high “burn rate” against Ansarallah’s attacks, the “answer” to Saudi Arabia’s impending shortage of the supplies is not in “more interceptors,” but rather “a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Yemen,” said one senior administration official to the Financial Times in an article published 9 January.
Another senior US official told the Financial Times that the kingdom is in an “urgent situation,” adding that “there are other places in the Gulf they can get them from,” referring to the missile system costs.
It is estimated that each Patriot ranges from $1 to $6 million, and, so far, Riyadh has spent at least $10 billion on the purchases of Patriot missiles.
While Biden announced in February 2021 that he would put an end to US support of “relevant arms sales” to Riyadh’s “offensive operations” in Yemen, soon after these comments his administration approved a $650 million sale to the kingdom of 280 air-to-air missiles.
On 8 December 2021, the US Senate rejected a bipartisan joint resolution of disapproval issued by introduced by Republicans Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Democrat Bernie Sanders.
However, Saudi-US relations have been reassessed in light of the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, for which Biden has blamed Riyadh.
While Saudi Arabia’s siege of Yemen was given significant backing by the US and its allies, Washington has come under fire for its key role in supporting a brutal siege that included US-backed coalition airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemenis.