The Gulf states are investing billions of dollars in advanced missile defences designed to protect their cities against attack from Iran, according to the latest survey of the global military balance.
Iran has developed cruise missiles with precision accuracy and ranges of up to 1,250 miles.
From Kuwait in the Gulf’s northern waters to the United Arab Emirates near the Strait of Hormuz, five countries are installing or upgrading US-supplied missile defences.
This huge investment is “driven by concern over Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal”, said John Chipman, the director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Last April, Saudi Arabia spent $2.8 billion ($2 billion USD) on Patriot PAC-3 missiles, which are designed to shoot down incoming weapons. These batteries have been deployed to protect the kingdom’s oil installations along the Gulf coast, only 120 miles from Iran.
All of Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbours – with the exception of Oman – now possess either the same system or the less capable Patriot PAC-2.
The UAE is negotiating with America for the supply of the most advanced missile shield — known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence — which can destroy incoming missiles at a range of 150 miles.
How much the Gulf states are spending is unclear, but missile defence was a large proportion their total military budget of $158 billion ($113 billion USD) last year.