Military Review

Saudi Arabian Armed Forces

The Royal Saudi Armed Forces are a combination of the troops of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which are designed to protect the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the largest state on the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabian armed forces consist of the Saudi Army, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the Royal Saudi Air Defense, the Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Forces and the National Guard. In terms of military spending in 2014, Saudi Arabia was in 4 place in the world, only slightly behind the Russian Federation - 80,8 billion US dollars (data from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute). Military spending accounts for more than 10% of a country's GDP.

Saudi Arabia is a country whose state form of government is absolute monarchy. The country is ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king Abdul Aziz. Theoretically, the power of the king in this country is limited only by the norms of Sharia. Saudi Arabia is one of three countries in the world, having a name given in honor of the ruling dynasty in the country (Saudi). At present, the country's armed forces are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense. In November 2011, the new Minister of Defense after the death of Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud became Prince Salman ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

Saudi Arabia is a relatively young state, which in the existing borders was formed in 1932 by uniting the principalities of the Arabian Peninsula. Currently, this country seeks to play a leading role among Muslim and especially Arab countries. Saudi Arabia has prerequisites and opportunities for this. Islam originated on the territory of this country, and it is here that the two main shrines of the Islamic world - Mecca and Medina are located. In addition, the country has enormous oil resources and, as a result, great financial opportunities. This country is the main member of OPEC, in terms of oil production it ranks second in the world after Russia. Oil accounts for 95% Saudi Arabian exports and 75% state revenues.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is the only state where the official religion is the Wahhabi (Salafi) branch of Sunni Islam, which, along with the form of government (absolute monarchy), makes Saudi Arabia one of the most totalitarian countries in the world. At the same time, this state is an unofficial sponsor of all Islamic Sunni terrorism in the world, which does not prevent it from being considered one of the strategic allies of the West, and especially the United States. China has its own interests in Saudi Arabia, which not so long ago replaced the United States as the main buyer of Saudi oil.

The number of armed forces of the country, including the National Guard and paramilitary forces, exceeds 220 thousand people. The armed forces of Saudi Arabia are recruited solely on a voluntary basis, this is a fully contract army. Serving in the army can subjects of the kingdom who have reached the age of 18. The country's population exceeds 31,5 million people, mobilization reserves - about 6 million people. Annually, the draft age reaches about 250 thousand people.

A feature of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia is their huge budget, which is the highest among all the countries of the Persian Gulf. At the same time, the country's armed forces are constantly increasing. Back in 1990, there were only 90 thousand people in them, but now more than 200 thousand servicemen are serving. Main supplier weapons for Saudi Arabia, the United States is traditionally traditional, American supplies account for 85% of the country's total weapons, but there are also weapons of European (mainly French) and Chinese production.

Another feature of the armed forces of the kingdom is the presence in their composition of strategic missile forces. At the same time, this is not about installations for launching operational tactical missiles, but about full-fledged mid-range ballistic missiles made in China. The range of these missiles is up to 2800 kilometers, which significantly expands the possibilities of using the armed forces of Saudi Arabia far beyond the borders of their country.

Due to the presence of simply enormous financial resources of Saudi Arabia, rather quickly it was possible to create powerful enough armed forces. Although in practice, their actual combat capability raises certain doubts (the Arab mentality, the hired principle of forming the armed forces and the general high standard of living of the citizens in the country do not add to the special desire to fight). This is also confirmed by the operation in Yemen, where the armed forces of Saudi Arabia are not very successful.

Ground Forces and National Guard of Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian ground forces have about 80 thousand people. They, along with the Kingdom's National Guard, are the most numerous armed formations. At the same time, the land forces in the kingdom are, in fact, supplemented by the National Guard, which is the king's personal guard and is recruited from representatives of the most loyal clans and tribes of the ruling monarchy. As part of the ground forces and the national guard, which serves up to 75 thousand people, there are 21 brigades: three tank brigades of ground forces; 9 mechanized brigades (5 - ground forces, 4 - National Guard); 8 light infantry brigades (3 - ground forces, 5 - National Guard); one airborne brigade of ground forces, two brigades of the army aviation and the Royal Guard brigade (ground forces).

At the same time, the National Guard has priority over the army in equipping with personnel and modern weapons, as well as in the level of combat training. Guard plays the role of security forces, which are designed to ensure the fight against internal threats, while also playing the role of a shield against a possible external invasion. The tasks of the National Guard are the protection of the royal palace, the defense of the country against military coups, the defense of strategically important objects and resources of the kingdom, the protection of Medina and Mecca. The personnel, as noted above, are recruited only from clans and tribes who are loyal to the ruling king and his family members (mainly from the region of Nejd). The National Guard forces are always headed by a senior member of the ruling royal family. Also, the National Guard additionally includes a tribal militia of up to 25 thousands of people, which is deployed in irregular battalions.

The Saudi Arabian ground forces have more than 1100 tanks, but there are no tanks in the National Guard. At the same time, the country's tank fleet is represented by both modern American tanks M1A2SEP and М1А2 (there are up to 340 of such machines), and obsolete tanks - French AMX-30S (around 320 machines) and American М60А3 (about 500 tanks). There are plans to upgrade all the existing Abrams to the version of M1A2SEP. Previously, Saudi Arabia planned to buy Leopard 600A800 + tanks in Germany before 2-7, but in 2014, Germany officially refused to execute this deal, even despite its fabulous cost, Saudi Arabia’s representatives were ready to pay for 18 tanks of billions of euros. The German government refused to sell tanks to the autocratic regime. However, this decision of the German authorities has been consistently implemented for decades. The way out of the situation could be the acquisition in the US of an additional batch of M1A2SEP tanks. In total, it is planned to have in the troops up to 700 modern OBT, completely removing from service the outdated AMX-30S and М60А3.

Also in service is to 1000 BMP mainly American and French. For example, there are about 400 BMP M2A2 "Bradley" (it is planned to upgrade to A3 version) and to 600 French AMX-10P. In addition to them in the army is more than 5 thousands of different armored personnel carriers. Of which 1650 falls on the American crawler-made BTR M113 and their version of the ACV modernized according to the Turkish project, in the future it is planned to upgrade all M113 to ACV. There are also some 150 obsolete French wheeled 4x4 BTR M-3 Panhard and ordered up to 155 new wheeled BTR LAV-II. The National Guard has more than 1100 armored combat vehicles LAV (Piranha) of Canadian production. The nomenclature of these machines is very diverse - from ordinary LAV-25, to machines with 90-mm guns (LAV-90), with TOW anti-tank systems, 120-mm mortars, medical evacuation, etc.

155-mm SAU AuF1 and BMP AMX-10P

The 500 SAU of 155-mm caliber is in service with American 280-109 / 1 2, up to 90 French AuF1 and 100 modern wheeled French Caesar, as well as 45 Chinese PLZ-45. The towed artillery is represented by 100 American M101 and 140 M102 caliber 105-mm (including 50 in the National Guard). 72 English FH-70, 50 American M114, 120 M198 155-mm caliber (including 58 in the National Guard) and eight 203-mm M115 (all in storage). There are also up to 700 mortars of various calibers and up to 72 of modern Brazilian Astros-2 MLRS from 127 to 300 mm.

Army aviation has 11 attack helicopters AN-64A Apache and up to 70 transport and multi-purpose helicopters. Military air defense includes about 1000 MANPADS (approximately equally American "Stinger" and "Red Ay"), as well as up to 160 anti-aircraft guns. It is curious that in order to build national aviation in the country, the National Guard plans to acquire up to 156-190 helicopters in the USA, including 72-106 drums (36-70 AN-64D Block III, 36 light AH-6i) and 84 providing (12 lightweight MD-530F and 72 amphibious UH-60M). Thus, according to the number of helicopters, the National Guard can bypass army aircraft by 2,3 times, and by strike vehicles by more than 6 times.

Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Forces

From a thousand to 2,5, thousands of people serve in strategic missile forces. The main weapon of the strategic missile forces are the DF-3A (Dunfeng-3) Chinese-developed liquid ballistic missiles, which the PRC sold to Saudi Arabia in 1987-1988. These medium-range ballistic missiles are able to travel up to 2800 kilometers, they can fly to the North Caucasus and the Lower Volga region. The rocket was specially created for export to Saudi Arabia and is a means of strategic non-nuclear deterrence. The nuclear warhead in them was replaced by a high-explosive warhead (2150 kg). In total, Saudi Arabia has up to 9-12 PU data missiles and up to 120 Dunfeng 3 missiles themselves. It also circulates information that the kingdom could have acquired or has already acquired in China more modern solid-fuel ballistic missiles DF-21.

DF-3A rockets

Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Forces are top secret, there is no open information about the exact number of personnel, bases or overall budget. At the same time, there are fears that Saudi Arabia has already acquired nuclear warheads for these missiles or may do so at any time, for example, in Pakistan, whose kingdom program at one time financed. There is also a possibility that Saudi Arabia itself will be able to develop nuclear weapons, since the plans are to build 2030 reactors in the country by the year of 16.

Royal Saudi Air Force

The Saudi Air Force serves about 20 thousand people. It is the Air Force that is considered the main deterrent, strike and defensive force of the kingdom’s forces, which is able to act on targets on the ground, in the sky and at sea. Are a priority type of armed forces of Saudi Arabia. Procurement of military equipment for the Air Force is traditionally made in the US and the UK. In this case, the financial capabilities of the kingdom allow you to acquire modern types of aircraft. Currently, Saudi Arabia has the second largest fleet in the Middle East after the Israeli Air Force.


Saudi Arabian air forces are mainly equipped with modern aviation technology (among combat aircraft, up to 80%), while the fleet of this country is constantly updated through the purchase of new cars. In total, the country has 15 military airfields, including 5 main air force bases. The 32 modern European fighter Eurofighter Typhoon is in service (a total of 74 aircraft has been ordered). The backbone of the military aviation account for American fighters the F-15, there are a total 154 aircraft, including: 70 fighter bombers F-15S (planned upgrade to level F-15SA), 66-interceptor F-15C and 18 training fighter F-15D . In December 2011, Saudi Arabia additionally ordered an F-84SA 15 aircraft in the United States. Also in the Air Force of the kingdom is a large proportion of Tornado fighters. In the UK, the Tornado ADV and 15 Tornado IDS fighter-interceptors were acquired by the 95 interceptor fighter (10 is in reserve). In addition, there are about 20 obsolete American fighter Northrop F-5E, which will be fully written off after the completion of deliveries of fighters Eurofighter Typhoon.

Also in the composition of the Air Force is X-NUMX airplanes AEW E-5A American production; 3 tanker aircraft (by 18 units of American KS-7H and KE-130А, 3 European А4MRTT (two more ordered); 330 transport aircraft are mainly American-made, based on various versions of Lockheed C-68. The Royal Air Force has a special genus of Royal Air Force It is designed to carry members of the royal dynasty, including 130 passenger aircraft and up to 30 helicopters.

Eurofighter Typhoon

Among the undoubted merits of the Saudi air force can be identified a high degree of equipment with modern military equipment and weapons. At the same time, experts see the Saudi air force and its shortcomings. Some of them, for example, dependence on the maintenance and supply of foreign spare parts, as well as armaments from abroad (mainly from the United States), is characteristic not only of the Air Force, but also of all the armed forces of Saudi Arabia. But the part is directly connected with Saudi Arabia itself and its state structure - today almost half of the pilots are princes of blood, which in no way contributes to the qualitative selection of pilots and maintaining discipline during their service.

Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces

Air defense forces numbering up to 16 thousand people are a very important and priority type of armed forces of Saudi Arabia. The task of protecting important administrative, military and economic bases and facilities: the capital of the country, groups of troops, naval, military air and missile bases, and oil extraction areas is assigned to them. Air defense are separate from the Air Force type of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia. The main command post of the country's air defense system, which is integrated into the Peace Shield system, is located in an underground complex in Riyadh. The air defense forces are represented by anti-aircraft missile systems, anti-aircraft artillery, and parts of radio engineering troops. In operational subordination of air defense forces are air force fighters.

Patriot SIRK

Organizationally, the country's air defense forces are grouped into 6 groups (districts). The backbone of the air defense system are 17 early warning radar AN / FPS-117 (V) 3, which are associated with a large number of tactical radars. Between themselves, air defense weapons are combined using the Peace Shield control, monitoring, reconnaissance and communications system. As part of the country's air defense, there are up to 12 batteries towed by Patriot PAC-2 (96 PU) batteries, upgrading to PAC-3, and 16 batteries of upgraded I-Hawk (128 PU) batteries are planned. There are also about 600 short-range air defense missile systems (American Avenger 400, Crotal French 40 Shahin 141). There are also about 1000 units of 20-40 caliber anti-aircraft artillery systems.

Royal Saudi Navy

About 15,5 thousand people serve in the Saudi Arabian Navy, including up to 3 thousand in the Marine Corps. Organizationally consist of two fleets of the West in the Red Sea and East in the Persian Gulf. Composed of fleet There are 18 warships (7 frigates, 4 corvettes, 7 minesweepers) and up to 75 boats. The naval aviation also has up to 31 helicopters. The Marine Corps is represented by a double-battalion regiment, which is equipped with the BMR-600P amphibious armored personnel carriers. Also, as part of the coastal defense forces, there are 4 batteries of Italian-made Otomat mobile rocket launchers.

Riyadh type frigate

Available in the Navy 7 frigates built in France. Three of these, the most modern, Riyadh type (French La Fayette class), are delivered from 2002 to 2004, and four, such as Madina, are delivered from 1985 to 1986. There are also four Badr rocket corvettes and Al-Siddik-type 9 missile boats. Experts consider the equipment of relatively modern ships and combat boats to be the dignity of the kingdom’s navy, and the lack of submarine forces is a obvious shortcoming.

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  1. Major_Vortex
    Major_Vortex 19 November 2015 06: 55
    A bunch of French and American weapons. And in response to the attacks: New York, Paris. In China, too, periodically plows. And at the same time they bomb Syria and demand the overthrow of Assad, who did nothing wrong with either the United States or France. Only Germany has shown integrity.
    1. Botanologist
      Botanologist 19 November 2015 14: 27
      Subtract 5 frigates sunk by the Jena rebels from the Royal Navy. And the Royal pleasure boats remain.
    2. The comment was deleted.
  2. Patriot C
    Patriot C 19 November 2015 06: 57
    stupid phrase: "Although in practice their actual combat effectiveness raises certain doubts (the Arab mentality, the hired principle of the formation of the armed forces and the general high standard of living of subjects in the country does not add a special desire to fight)" sad these are not indicators.

    In Israel, in France, in Great Britain, in the USA - the standard of living is even higher than that of the Saudis and the armed forces of these countries are among the best in the world. while in African countries with a very low standard of living, the armed forces scatter from ordinary partisans with antediluvian Kalash.
    1. Anton Valerevich
      Anton Valerevich 19 November 2015 13: 14
      Actually, the per capita GDP in Saudi Arabia is higher than all the countries you have listed above, and about the same level as the United States, and unlike them, the Saudis do not produce anything other than oil. Mentally, Saudi Arabia is located in the Middle Ages, and the one who is able to retell the Koran literally is considered a great scientist. What are you talking about - what kind of Saudi warriors are there - if not for the protection of the United States, the Iranians would have torn them to shreds long ago.
    2. Mayor_U
      Mayor_U 19 November 2015 20: 10
      Where does the information come from that France has a higher standard of living? There, next to the Eiffel tower on the cellophane, half-bombs sell souvenirs
      1. Patriot C
        Patriot C 19 November 2015 23: 12
        Hindu workers in Arabia sleep 20 people each for a room of 40 squares, eat doshirak and wash themselves once a week in a shared shower.
  3. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 19 November 2015 06: 59
    Thank you for the article!!!! filled a gap in knowledge.
  4. Belousov
    Belousov 19 November 2015 08: 08
    Weapons are full, but they don’t know how to use them. Apparently the eggs there only camels. They can only fund others and organize terrorist attacks. And the rebels themselves in Yemen can not overcome with the support of staff, the warriors are scribbling.
    1. avt
      avt 19 November 2015 08: 52
      Quote: Belousov
      They can only fund others and organize terrorist attacks. And the rebels themselves in Yemen can not overcome with the support of staff, the warriors are scribbling.

      It is what it is . The mercenaries are being driven to Yemen from where they could, Sudanese, Igilians from Syria lit up, and the Egyptians are not particularly eager - the genetic memory from the time of Nasser, the point spread out by men in skirts hurts.
  5. Sars
    Sars 19 November 2015 09: 07
    It is urgent to Israel to inform about the plans of the Saudis regarding nuclear weapons - the Jews, as principled people, will urgently bomb all the strategic weapons of the Arabs!
  6. The comment was deleted.
  7. Hammer
    Hammer 19 November 2015 09: 51
    At the same time, this state is an unofficial sponsor of all Islamic Sunni terrorism in the world.
    1. Anton Valerevich
      Anton Valerevich 19 November 2015 13: 16
      The budget goes to pay for the roof.
  8. marinier
    marinier 19 November 2015 10: 46
    Good time of the day!
    In the media, in the West, too, there was widespread discussion about the presence of nuclear weapons.
    conclusions were drawn on the basis of 4 Saudis in close cooperation with Pakistan
    China. And still referred to the purchased weapons of mass destruction. As an example,
    led purchases of ballistic missiles from China. But there is no concrete evidence.
  9. EvilLion
    EvilLion 19 November 2015 11: 27
    In theory, it would be nice to bomb a couple with Qatar.
    1. Belousov
      Belousov 19 November 2015 12: 53
      You yourself don’t even have to climb, just agree with Iran - they will tear both Qatar and the SA with such pleasure that they will leave the Jews at least three years behind, and we will simply cover them and not let the staff laughing
      But seriously, it also has its own pain points, in particular ethnic and religious conflicts. You just need to heat them regularly and purposefully and the result will not be long in coming.
    2. Belousov
      Belousov 19 November 2015 12: 53
      You yourself don’t even have to climb, just agree with Iran - they will tear both Qatar and the SA with such pleasure that they will leave the Jews at least three years behind, and we will simply cover them and not let the staff laughing
      But seriously, it also has its own pain points, in particular ethnic and religious conflicts. You just need to heat them regularly and purposefully and the result will not be long in coming.
  10. TIO1969
    TIO1969 19 November 2015 12: 01
    As for the submarines, or rather, their absence - here Germany, as with the tanks, also showed a principled position. The Saudis planned to acquire 20 (!) German submarines of the modified project 209 equipped with an air-independent power plant. The request was sent back in 2003, but a positive decision was not expected.
  11. 3officer
    3officer 19 November 2015 14: 00
    Excellent students in combat and political training in throwing expensive equipment and in running away from barefoot Hussites! As they say, we are waiting for new selfies against the background of captured abrams and other American buns.soldier
  12. holgert
    holgert 19 November 2015 14: 41
    Remind me when and with whom and, most importantly, with what result did the Saudis fight ?? .. I found only two uprisings against the Turks at the time of joining the Ottoman Empire, and then only "fights" of different clans !!!! buy modern equipment .......
    1. Mother Theresa
      Mother Theresa 19 November 2015 18: 32
      Remember the Arab Caliphate, then the Arabs reached France.
  13. kotvov
    kotvov 19 November 2015 20: 13
    today almost half of the pilots are blood princes,
    in how I represent the discipline.
    1. Mother Theresa
      Mother Theresa 19 November 2015 21: 54
      but they have something to lose
    2. Mother Theresa
      Mother Theresa 19 November 2015 21: 54
      but they have something to lose
  14. KULEMA
    KULEMA 6 January 2016 13: 47
    Missiles were most struck. 120 missiles with a range of 2800-4000 km.