The US State Department yesterday announced that it had approved the sale of $1.4 billion of Patriot air and missile defence system components and upgrades to Kuwait.
According to Reuters, the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the State Department had cleared the sale of 84 interceptor missiles called the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements (MSEs) and related equipment made by US defence firm Lockheed Martin for an estimated cost of $800 million. Training and technical assistance are also part of the contract provided by Lockheed Martin and defence contractor Raytheon valued at $425 million. While a third contract by the same companies is valued at $200 million to repair existing systems.
The State Department said: “The proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
“The proposed sale of these articles and services will improve Kuwait’s capability to meet current and future threats and provide greater security for its critical oil and natural gas infrastructure,” it added, in reference to the September 2019 attacks on Saudi Aramco’s oilfields that US officials attributed to Iran, but was claimed by the Houthis of Yemen.
Saudi Arabia had spent billions over the years on US air defence systems and training, yet the Patriot surface-to-air missiles and radars failed to protect the oil fields from low-flying drones. They have failed to defend the kingdom previously, during a rocket attack in March of 2018.
Earlier this month it was reported that four Patriot missile batteries in addition to dozens of US troops stationed in the kingdom were to be removed with some Pentagon officials believing they could be redeployed to face other threats including China’s growing regional hegemony in Asia Pacific.