Billions Spent on U.S. Weapons Didn’t Protect Saudi Arabia’s Most Critical Oil Sites from A Crippling Attack (excerpt)
(Source: The Washington Post; published Sept. 17, 2019)
By Adam Taylor
Saudi NCOs pose in front of a Patriot launcher during a training course in the United States. Patriot’s technical limitations, including a limited radar coverage, may explain why it failed to protect Saudi oil installations. (US Army photos)
For years, Saudi Arabia has been a major buyer of U.S.-made weapons. That relationship intensified after President Trump took office, with the American leader pushing oil-rich Riyadh to buy more weapons and Saudi Arabia pledging a purchase of $110 billion in U.S. arms just months after his inauguration.

After this weekend, when a devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities blindsided the kingdom, some observers were left wondering what protection Riyadh’s outreach to the United States has bought it.

Notwithstanding the expensive military hardware purchased by Saudi Arabia, experts say, the Saturday attack represented an unusually well-planned operation that would have been difficult for even the most well-equipped and experienced countries to detect and neutralize.

“This was a really flawless attack,” said Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has followed Saudi air defense for decades, adding that evidence suggests that only one of 20 missiles may have missed its target. “That’s astounding.”

The attack has been claimed by Houthi insurgents in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been staging a troubled intervention since 2015. U.S. officials have suggested that at least part of the attack was launched from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival across the Persian Gulf.

The operation appeared to circumvent the defenses of Saudi Arabia’s military, including the six battalions of Patriot missile defense systems produced by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon — each of which can cost in the region of $1 billion. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Washington Post website.


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