October 3, 2018


Bahrain is a nation in the Middle East and is considered a major non-NATO U.S. ally and is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, the UN, and the WTO.

As a member of the GCC, Bahrain is fundamentally threatened by Iran and the Yemeni Houthi rebels’ willingness to use ballistic missiles to achieve political means. Currently, Bahrain deploys the American-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3, but has also looked into buying the Russian made S-400 or developing an indigenous missile defense system with the rest of the GCC states.[i]

Bahrain’s Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities

System Operator Number Deployed Role
Patriot/ PAC-3 Bahrain 2 Batteries Defends against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft  
AN/TPS-59 radar Bahrain 1 Long-Range air surveillance; detects air breathing targets and ballistic missiles  

Bahrain’s Air Defense Capabilities

System Role Number Deployed Platform
Crotale Short-Range Air Defense 10 Systems Ground Based; Road-Mobile
Robot System 70 (RBS 70) Short-Range Air Defense 40 Systems Man-Portable Tripod
FIM-92 Stinger Short-Range Air Defense 20 Systems Man-Portable (MANPAD)
Oerlikon Skyguard Short-Range Air Defense 15 Systems Ground-Based; Road-Mobile
MIM-23 Hawk Medium-Range Air Defense 8 Launchers Ground Based; Road-Mobile

Current Developments

In May 2004, Bahrain had purchased a $43.6 million contract for a ballistic missile radar system from Lockheed Martin and had members of the Bahrain Defense Force trained on how to maintain and operate the system in Syracuse, New York.[ii] The radar system was delivered in October 2007 after proceeding smoothly through a site acceptance test in August of that same year. The Bahrain Defense Force now uses the system primarily for air surveillance.[iii]

In January 2016, it was announced that the GCC is working on developing a joint missile defense shield. GCC officials say that the missile defense shield would be a way to create a cross-border approach to counter Iran’s growing missile capabilities.[iv] As recently as May 2017, the shield was still in progress.

In October 2017, Bahrain has announced it is in talks with Russia to purchase the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Bahrain has previously purchased the Kornet-EM, an anti-tank guided missile system, and has high hopes that it can finish the process to also purchase the S-400.[v]

Most recently, in September 2018, the United States announced its plans to withdraw one Patriot system from Bahrain. There are currently no plans to replace the system.

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