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
|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
|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|
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.