Saudi Arabia Table of Contents
Saudi air defense units were separated from the army in the mid-1980s to form a fourth service branch responsible for territorial air defense. The new fourth command was initially entrusted to Amir Khalid ibn Sultan Al Saud, son of the minister of defense and aviation.
The air defense forces, with an estimated 4,000 personnel in 1992, had as their primary responsibility the operation of thirty-three SAM batteries. Of these, sixteen batteries were equipped with 128 I-Hawk SAMs with a forty-kilometer range, which were emplaced around Riyadh, Ras Tanura, Dhahran, Jiddah, and key air bases at Khamis Mushayt, Hafar al Batin, and Tabuk, as well as the approaches to strategic oil facilities of the Eastern Province. The remaining seventeen batteries, forming a second line of air defense, were equipped with sixty-eight Shahine SAM fire units with a range of sixteen kilometers. These SAMs were a version of the French Crotale missile system mounted on AMX-30SA chassis. This mobile missile defense guarded the Saudi oil fields and other vital installations. An additional seventy-three Shahine fire units were employed as static defense. Both the IHawk and Shahine systems were linked to AWACS and to the Peace Shield command and control system. In addition to the missile defense, the air defense forces were equipped with Vulcan 20mm self-propelled guns and 30mm guns mounted on AMX-30SA chassis (see table 14, Appendix).
Data as of December 1992