Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force

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Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force
Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force , official emblem.jpg
Founded 1987; 28 years ago (1987)
Country  Saudi Arabia
Branch Strategic Missile Force
Type Land Based Intermediate-range ballistic missile Forces
Role Strategic Strike
Size >3,000
Part of Ministry of Defence and Aviation
Commanders
Major General Jarallah Alaluwayt (Arabic: جار الله العلويط،)
Insignia
Flag Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force , official emblem.jpg

The Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force (RSSMF) (Arabic: قوة الصواريخ الإستراتيجيه الملكية السعودية‎) is the fifth branch of the Saudi Armed Forces. The RSSMF formerly had its headquarters in an underground command facility in Riyadh. The facility coordinated Saudi Arabia's advanced "Peace Shield" radar and air defense systems. In July 2013, the new RSSMF headquarters and academy buildings were officially opened by Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz and current RSSMF commander Major General Jarallah Alaluwayt.[1][2]

Saudi Arabia and weapons of mass destruction[edit]

The RSSMF's role has grown rapidly since Saudi Arabia and other Arab States of the Persian Gulf announced in 2009 an initiative to obtain nuclear weapons as a countermeasure to the Iranian nuclear program. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, both mentioned the Gulf states could acquire their own nuclear weapons as a countermeasure to Iran's.[3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Some experts speculate (by taking into account Saudi Arabia’s financial contribution to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program) that Saudi Arabia may receive or has already received nuclear weapons from Pakistan. One report by the BBC claims "it is a cash-and-carry deal for warheads, the first of those options sketched out by the Saudis back in 2003; others that it is the second, an arrangement under which Pakistani nuclear forces could be deployed in the Kingdom."[8]

Delivery systems[edit]

DF-3[edit]

Main article: DF-3A

The main weapon of the RSSMF is the Chinese DF-3 (CSS-2, Dongfeng missile), which carries a conventional high-explosive warheads (2150 kg) and is a variant of the DongFeng 3A Intermediate-range ballistic missile. The missile has a maximum range of 2800km and was delivered following an order made by Saudi Arabia in 1987.[9] About 30~120 missiles and 9~12 transporter erector launchers (TEL) were reportedly delivered in 1988, however no known test-launch has been made in the country.Saudi Arabia publicly displayed them for the first time in 2014.[10]

DF-21[edit]

Main article: DF-21

In 2013, media reports appeared suggesting that the RSSMF would consider purchasing the advanced DF-21 ballistic missile from China in the future.[11][12] In January 2014, Newsweek revealed that Saudi Arabia had secretly bought a number of DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles in 2007. They also said that the American CIA had allowed the deal to go through as long as the missiles were modified to not be able to carry nuclear warheads. While the DF-3 has a longer range, it was designed to carry a nuclear payload, and so had poor accuracy (300 meters CEP) if used with a conventional warhead. It would only be useful against large area targets like cities and military bases. This made them useless during the Gulf War for retaliating against Iraqi Scud missile attacks, as they would cause mass civilian casualties and would not be as effective as the ongoing coalition air attacks. After the war, the Saudis and the CIA worked together to covertly allow the purchase of Chinese DF-21s. The DF-21 is solid-fueled instead of liquid-fueled like the DF-3, so it takes less time to prepare for launch. It is accurate to 30 meters CEP, allowing it to attack specific targets like compounds or palaces. The Saudis are not known to possess mobile launchers, but may use the some 12 launchers originally bought with the DF-3s. The number of DF-21 missiles that were bought is unknown. Newsweek speculates that details of the deal being made public is part of Saudi deterrence against Iran.[13][14][10]

Facilities[edit]

The Strategic Missile Force has an underground ballistic missile base which was built in 2008 - the Al-Watah ballistic missile base (discovered with the help of satellite images)[15] - in the rocky central part of Saudi Arabia, some 200 km southwest of the capital city of Riyadh. The base has a security perimeter with a checkpoint on the main road, as well as extensive storage and underground facilities. It also includes administrative buildings, two launch pads, a communications tower and seven gates leading to the underground facilities. Fortified depots for launchers lie behind the secondary checkpoint in the ravine area.

Two older bases: Al Sulayyil[16][17] and Al Jufayr have similar characteristics, suggesting that they share the same role. Al Jufayr lies approximately 90 km south of Riyadh, and Al Sulayyil lies approximately 450 km southwest of the capital. Each complex has two missile garrisons (one in the North and another in the South) with another area serving housing, maintenance and administrative functions. The garrisons themselves are located a short distance away within a secured complex. The administrative and support complexes are outside the security perimeter.

References[edit]

  1. ^ @ SaudiArmyNews "Arabic:المملكة العربية السعودية هي الدولة العربية الوحيدة التي من ضمن فروع قواتها المسلحة فرع رئيسي يسمى - Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country with a "Strategic Missile Force" branch, Twitter @ SaudiArmyNews, July 2013.
  2. ^ "Arabic:قوة الصواريخ الإستراتيجية الملكية السعودية - The power of the Saudi royal strategic missiles". National Kuwait. July 2013. Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. 
  3. ^ US embassy cables: Saudi official warns Gulf states may go nuclear [1], The Guardian, 28 November 2010.
  4. ^ Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop the nuclear program. [2] The Guardian, 28 November 2010.
  5. ^ Riyadh will build nuclear weapons if Iran gets them, Saudi prince warns [3] The Guardian, 29 June 2011.
  6. ^ Dennis Ross: Saudi king vowed to obtain nuclear bomb after Iran [4] Haaretz, 30 May 2012.
  7. ^ King Says Saudi Arabia Would Need Nukes to Counter Iran Arsenal [5] The Nuclear Threat Initiative, 30 May 2012.
  8. ^ Mark Urban: Saudi nuclear weapons 'on order' from Pakistan [6] BBC News, 6 November 2013.
  9. ^ SinoDefence "DongFeng 3 (CSS-2) Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile", 27 February 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia unveils part of strategic missile force - a deterrent move against Iran?". Defense Update. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Jefrey Lewis - Arms Control Wonk. "Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Dyad" Arms Control Wonk , 15 July 2013.
  12. ^ Ala Alrababah, Jeffrey Lewis (15 December 2014). "Saudi Rattles Its Saber". Nuclear Threat Initiative. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  13. ^ CIA Helped Saudis in Secret Chinese Missile Deal - Newsweek.com, 29 January 2014
  14. ^ Saudi Ballistic Missiles Secretly Upgraded - Strategypage.com, 10 February 2014
  15. ^ Sean O'Connor - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. "Saudi ballistic missile site revealed", IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, 10 July 2013.
  16. ^ Ronen Bergman - GlobalSecurity Org. "Al Sulayyil Missile Base" GlobalSecurity.org.
  17. ^ GlobalSecurity Org. photos "Imagery of Al Sulayyil Missile Base Launch Complex Area" GlobalSecurity.org

External links[edit]