MANAMA --- The commander of Bahrain's Royal Guard suggested to reporters on October 16 that Manama is interested in purchasing the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, produced by Russia.
The commander, Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, stated, "We are currently in the stage of negotiations, but with god’s help we will finish this process." Sputnik International reported that these comments were in regards to the S-400.
He added, "Bahrain and Russia have established broad cooperation in the military sector. Meetings are being held, negotiations are taking place, relations have also been established between the leadership of two countries. We would like to strengthen our relations and increase the amount of Russian weapons in Bahrain’s defense forces."
Bahrain has previously purchased the Kornet-EM, an anti-tank guided missile system, from Russia, and Bahraini officials have previously suggested the country was interested in acquiring the Pantsir-S1.
It is unclear, however, how genuine Bahrain's interest is in the S-400. The system would be difficult to integrate into an air-defense network with Western-origin air-defense systems, which make up Bahrain's current inventories and much of its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council alliance.
Moreover, each battalion of S-400s -- which includes eight transporter-erector launchers as well as associated support vehicles -- costs around $500 million, which would be difficult for Bahrain to purchase without financial assistance, either from Russia or from an ally like Saudi Arabia. Bahrain's annual defense budget is around $1.3 billion.
Notably, Saudi Arabia has discussed its own possible purchase of the S-400 and signed a memorandum of understanding with Rosoboronexport for the sale of four S-400 battalions, at a likely cost of $2 billion, several weeks ago. The announcement of the S-400 memorandum preceded the U.S. announcing that it had approved the sale of seven batteries of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems to Saudi Arabia, at an estimated cost of $15 billion.