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UK swaps radars for SHORAD in Saudi Arabia

A Stormer HVM fires a Starstreak missile during an exercise in Canada in 2014. (Crown Copyright)

The British Army has deployed self-propelled short-range air defence systems to Saudi Arabia but has withdrawn its Giraffe air surveillance radars from the kingdom, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said on 16 June.

“The UK deployed two Giraffe radars in February 2020 to help mitigate the continued aerial threats that the kingdom has faced,” he said in a statement. “It was necessary to repatriate these radars in December 2021, but the threat to Saudi Arabia has not abated…. The Ministry of Defence has conducted a phased follow-on deployment of air defence equipment to Saudi Arabia. The deployment comprises a small number of High Velocity Missile (Self Propelled) systems and associated personnel.”

The self-propelled version of the High Velocity Missile system consists of a Stormer light armoured vehicle fitted with a launcher for eight Starstreak or Martlet laser-beam riding missiles and an infrared target detection and tracking system.

The Martlet Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM) would be more appropriate against the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that Yemen's Houthi rebels frequently use to attack Saudi Arabia as it has a proximity fuze, unlike the Starstreak missile, which requires a direct hit with at least one of its three projectiles to destroy a target.

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