Fighting low-tech drones with air-to-air missiles is an expensive tactic – but Saudi Arabia may not be able to afford to give up shooting down thousand-dollar drones with AIM-120 million-dollar missiles.
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of the 280 AMRAAMs to Saudi Arabia, comprising a mixture of AIM-120C-7 and C-8 models, which are among the most modern versions of these weapons available for export. The missiles will be sold to Saudi Arabia via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process, providing the sale is approved by the U.S. Congress.
Saudi Arabia plans on topping up its stocks ofAIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, or AMRAAMs, with a batch of no fewer than 280 examples, worth $650 million, with which to arm its fighter jets. The planned missile spending spree comes as the RoyalSaudi Air Force (RSAF) continues its relentless campaign to shoot down drones launched against its territory by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.
On early November, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the US had approved arms sales to Saudi Arabia, involving 280 AIM-120C7 missiles. In response, a State Department spokesperson said, “Over the past year, we have seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia.