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Patriot and Aegis in Gulf to pressure Iran 22, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran, The Gulf.
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UPI reports that the Obama Administration has accelerated the deployment of anti-missile defenses to friendly Gulf States to counter the Iranian missile threat. Patriot Systems and Aegis Cruisers are the key plinths of this deployment, though General Petraeus did not specifically name the countries that hosted the Patriot Systems. This is somewhat curious as the Guardian reported at the end of January that the Patriot System would be installed in Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain, with Kuwait and KSA having their existing systems upgraded. The widespread leaking of this move is seen as a mechanism to heap pressure on Iran.

Patriot Missile Facts

– Production began in 1980

– Currently at least 17 countries operate the system

– In the first Gulf War their success rate was 70% in KSA and 40% in Israel

– Each missile can weigh up to 1000kg, has a range of 100 miles, is more than 6m long, costs around $9 million and carries 90kg of explosives

– It automatically finds its target by radar

US anti-‘Iranian’ missile interceptor fails 21, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran.
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A recent attempt to shoot down what was staged to resemble an Iranian-fired ballistic missile failed. The Department of Defense commented that part of the radar system did not work as expected.

Whilst I most certainly do not profess to be an expert on these matters, ballistic missile interceptors like this never seem to work that well. Moreover, fundamentally, I don’t really agree that they are that much use. For every advance in interceptor technology there can be an (easier) advance in missile technology countering it. Given the staggering sums of money involved in these projects, I just cannot believe that there are not better ways to spend it than on epically complex systems with high failure rates.

GCC missile defence? 1, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran.
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It appears that America is seeking to link the GCC countries together in a joint missile defense system. Currently, the US has bilateral defence relations with all the states in the GCC, yet explicitly linking them in this way would be a new step. The article in The National continues to state that the US believes that there is something of a risk of “low-flying cruise missiles fired from close range.” Just what can they be thinking of?

The timing of such a statement is, of course, no surprise. Whilst such a notion may well appeal to the smaller, threatened GCC states, the technical difficulties of such a programme are surely substantial. However, just assembling the GCC states and perhaps coercing or persuading them to entertain and sign up to such a bargain would be a political coup for America and another clear sign of regional balancing against a potentially bellicose and dangerous Iran.