Saudi Arabia and the UAE are to evaluate purchasing the IRON DOME system following the peace agreement with Israel. This comes after frequent missile attacks on Saudi targets and the possibility of similar attacks in the UAE. The US has been informed about this intention, while pointing to the failure of the Saudi air defence systems to foil the major attack on the Saudi Arabia oil facilities. On 14 September 2019, different types of drones and missiles were used to attack the state owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Israeli sources say that the recent US withdrawal of its PATRIOT anti-missile defence batteries from Saudi Arabia opened the way for the deployment of other air defence systems in the kingdom. An Israeli defence source said that if the UAE and Saudi Arabia decide to purchase the systems, the deal will be with Rafael‘s American partner, Raytheon.
“This of course will have to get the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Defence” the source said.
The Threat to Saudi and the UAE
Saudi Arabia is often attacked by the Houthis from Yemen using suicide drones and ballistic missiles with precise targeting systems which cause severe damage to the Saudi economy. The Saudis became even more concerned after 23 November when Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a cruise missile attack that hit a Saudi oil facility in the port city of Jeddah. Recent reports in the Arab media claim that Saudi Arabia does not operate new modern oil production and processing facilities that have just been completed for fear of being attacked and destroyed by the Houthis.
In recent weeks, the UAE has also taken steps to evaluate the chances of buying the IRON DOME system. A source in the Israeli Ministry of Defence said that the UAE is very worried about the possibility of Iranian action against it in response to the peace agreement with Israel.
IRON DOME Industry
Raytheon Missiles and Defence teamed with Rafael for the IRON DOME project and the longer range system, DAVID’S SLING. Only recently, Rafael and Raytheon delivered two IRON DOME examples to the US Army.
IRON DOME detects, assesses and intercepts a variety of shorter-range targets such as rockets, artillery and mortars. It is effective in day or night conditions and in all weather, including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog. It features a first-of-its-kind multi-mission launcher designed to fire a variety of interceptor missiles.
IRON DOME’S TAMIR missile intercepts incoming threats launched from ranges of 4-70 km. TAMIR missiles feature electro-optical sensors and steering fins with proximity fuze blast warheads. The majority of TAMIR missile components are procured through the Raytheon Missiles & Defence supply chain in the US. In Israel, IRON DOME systems are deployed mainly along the border with Lebanon and with Gaza. In recent years, it has achieved a kill rate of over 85 per cent.