Saudi Arabia ‘purchasing offensive weapons’
Military analysts at IHS Jane’s have revealed that Saudi Arabia and several other Western-backed Arab countries in the Middle East are purchasing weapons suited for a more offensive military program in distant locations.
The UK-based group specializing in defense and intelligence analysis said Saudi Arabia is purchasing “items intended to boost the attacking capabilities of warplanes, such as precision air-to-ground missiles, advanced guidance systems and air-to-air refueling gear that extends the duration of flights,” according to media reports on Friday.
Saudi Arabia will likely upgrade its fleet of Panavia Tornado ground-attack aircraft and the 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters ordered from BAE Systems Plc to project its military power over a distance, it said.
IHS Jane’s added that Saudi Arabia’s military budget is to expand by three percent annually from 2018, with combined budgets for the Middle East and North Africa reaching 180 billion dollars a year by 2020.
The pursuit of more-offensive military equipment will be extending to the naval arena as well, it said.
IHS analyst Reed Foster said in the report that “traditionally, military capabilities in the region have been focused on territorial defense.”
Now, however, the Western-backed Middle Eastern states are purchasing military equipment that will allow them to build “the kind of capabilities required to conduct operations beyond their borders,” Foster said.
Saudi Arabia had the fourth-biggest military budget in 2016, behind the United States, China, and India.
Saudi Arabia has deployed military forces and equipment to neighboring Bahrain to help Manama’s despotic regime to crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Riyadh has also been waging war on Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to bring back the country’s former government to power. The war has claimed the lives of at least 11,400 Yemenis.