A Kuwaiti soldier stands guard in front of a Patriot missile launcher in 2003. Kuwait will soon take delivery of another 14 four-pack Patriot missiles. (Agence France-Presse)
DUBAI — Lockheed Martin will soon deliver 14 four-pack Patriot missiles and seven launcher modifications kits to Kuwait, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 31.
The $263.4 million foreign military sale is estimated to be completed date by June 30, 2016.
The “hit-to-kill” PAC-3 missiles are designed to defeat tactical ballistic missile threats, cruise missiles threats and aircraft. Taiwan, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates are already customers.
According to David Roberts, deputy director and research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) in Qatar, “This kind of deal would have been in the works for a long time.”
How the system might add to Kuwait’s defense posture depends “on how effectively the systems are used and the command-and-control training,” he added.
Last month, the Gulf Cooperation Council announced the creation of a Joint Military Command that would pave the way for establishment of a Joint GCC Missile Defence Platform.
“A unified missile defense system is a long way but there is definitely progress,” Roberts said.
Another analyst, Matthew Hedges from the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said the delivery of the PAC-3 to Kuwait represents the GCC’s initiative to bolster missile defense within the region.
“Kuwait is surrounded by large neighbors with extensive missile inventories and wants to independently protect its array of critical infrastructure that their economy relies on,” he said.
Delivery of the PAC-3 to Kuwait will see greater integration between Kuwaiti Armed Forces and the US 3rd Army, which is stationed in the country, giving the Kuwaitis a greater sense of security, he said.
“In addition to this, the Kuwaitis will look to modernize their Desert Warrior IFVs with Patria leading the race to replace their aging land-based vehicles,” Hedges said.
“Kuwait’s recent history highlights the delicate defense posture it resides in. As a result, Kuwait is undertaking numerous programs to ensure its national sovereignty.”
Their projected purchases over the next five years, according to Hedges, are small tactical UAVs and vertical takeoff and landing UAVs, as well as persistent surveillance TCOM aerostats as well as airborne countermine measures.
According to the Gulf Military Balance report released last July and authored by Anthony Cordesman and Robert Shelala, Kuwait in many ways is the most vulnerable of all the southern gulf states.
The report states that Kuwait has maintained close security relationships with the US for over two decades while also maintaining a delicate relationship with Iran.
“Like the other smaller gulf states, Kuwait also illustrates a different kind of need for improved military integration and interoperability than Saudi Arabia. Its forces are now relatively well-equipped, much better trained than in 1990, and exercise regularly with US forces,” the report stated.
“They can only really be effective as part of a larger whole, which requires both US power-projection capability and a much stronger GCC role in unifying gulf security,” it added. ■