Saudi Arabia requests the purchase of 300 US Patriot MIM-104E GEM-T air defense missiles

According to information published by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) on August 2, 2022, the U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.05 billion.
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The Guidance Enhanced Missile, or GEM-T, is one of the Patriot™ missile variants available to both U.S. forces and international customers. The GEM-T missile provides an improved ability to defeat tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or enemy aircraft in complement to the PAC-3 missile. (Picture source Raytheon)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested to buy three hundred (300) PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic missiles (GEM-T). Also included are tools and test equipment; range and test programs; support equipment to include associated publications and technical documentation; training equipment; spare and repair parts; New Equipment Training; Transportation; Quality Assurance Team support; U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance; engineering, and logistics support services; Systems Integration and Checkout (SICO); field office support; International Engineering Services Program Field Surveillance Program; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $3.05 billion.

The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles. These missiles are used to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial systems and ballistic missile attacks on civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. These attacks threaten the well-being of Saudi, International, and U.S. citizens (approximately 70,000) residing in the Kingdom.

The principal contractor will be Raytheon Corporation, Tewksbury, MA. The purchaser normally requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.

According to the Military Balance 2021, the Saudi armed forces have a total of 6 battalions of air defense equipped with an undisclosed number of Patriot MIM-104 D/F and Patriot PAC-2 GEM /PAC-3. 

The PATRIOT is an American-made air defense missile system designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. It is produced by Raytheon in Massachusetts and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Florida.

The Guidance Enhanced Missile TBM (GEM-T) is one of the latest in-production series of the highly successful Raytheon Patriot missile variants available to both U.S. forces and international customers. The GEM-T deliveries to the U.S. Army began in 2006. This capability adds a low-noise oscillator for improved acquisition and tracking performance in clutter.

The GEM-T missile provides an upgraded capability to defeat tactical ballistic missile (TBM), aircraft and cruise missile threats in complement to the PAC-3 missile. A modernized digital fuze design eliminates obsolescence and introduces significant performance improvements against TBM targets. This design also increases sensitivity for improved performance against high-speed TBM targets. The PAC-2 is able to intercept targets up to an altitude of 20 km while the PAC-3 can destroy incoming missiles at an altitude of 40 km.

The low noise front end (LNFE) of the GEM-T has increased seeker sensitivity, improving acquisition/track performance. The new low noise oscillator design has a modified down-link, which provides an increased signal-to-interference ratio, improving acquisition/ track performance against small ABT and cruise missile targets in clutter.