05 November 2020

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are giving up the S-400 missile systems for the Israeli Iron Dome

Sorin Butiri

The Russian S-400 missile defence systems continue to spark the interest of many countries in the entire world, because it seems that these are the best at the moment. Two states in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have showed interest in buying these systems…but they now want the Israeli Iron Dome system.

Image source: Profimedia

The normalization of Israel’s relation with EAU, Bahrain and Sudan might be followed by other 10 countries as well, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.

This new perspective offers Israel the opportunity to open its weapons industry towards the Gulf states, which might be an important step and could mark a new era in supporting peace in the region and the big businesses for Tel Aviv.

At a first sight, the situation seems ironical, because Israel itself opposed (and still opposes) any type of military modernization from its enemy nations. However, recently, Jerusalem seems to have changed its position in terms of the weapon sales, “approving” the sale of US F-35 aircrafts to UAE. Still, Israel opposed Qatar’s request for the same aircraft.

According to Eurasian Times, the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s interest to buy the S-400 systems changed dramatically. In the international media, there is information according to which the two countries have started to withdraw from the negotiations to buy the S-400 missiles and started to negotiate the procurement of the Iron Dome air defence systems.

There are many reasons for the two countries’ decision (UAE and Saudi Arabia) for the Iron Dome system, but one of these is the high effectiveness (more than 90%) of the Israeli defence system, proved in the last years, in the combat actions in the Middle East against UAV’s or missiles.

Another reason the Saudis might have is the repeated attacks of the Houthi rebels with drones and missiles. Considering that the Patriot air defence system did not met Saudis’ expectations, the Iron Dome is one of the alternatives. In fact, the Americans admit the superiority of the Israeli system comparing to the US one.

Besides these reasons there is also a strictly military one. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to get F-35s from the US. As for the S-400 Russian systems, Washington will not be able to sell F-35 to the two countries. In order to avoid Turkey’s example the two countries in the Gulf have redirected their attention towards the Israeli system Iron Dome.

The Iron Dome system is composed of three key elements – the Detection & Tracking Radar, Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC) and Missile Firing Unit. The information collected by the radar system is then sent to Battle Management & Weapon Control. The missile firing units are equipped with 20 missile interceptors. An Iron Dome battery has three launchers. Given these conditions, the system can launch 60 missiles able to destroy the identified objectives from up to the 75 km distance.

Translated by Andreea Soare