RIYADH – United States of America (US) and Arab Saudi completed their first joint counter-drone exercise last week. The drills took place at a new military testing center in Riyadh, the head of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
As quoted from Al Arabiya, the exercise was the first of its kind between the militaries of the two countries. US officials hope to replicate it with other troops in the region. The focus is on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
Last week’s exercise was not widely publicized, but officials said it was just the beginning of what they hope will be more in-depth and sophisticated exercises.
CENTCOM head Gen. Erik Kurilla told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee that the counter-UAS drills involved live fire drills and made it possible to study complex threats and identify weaknesses in other areas to counter drone activity.
He also hinted that directed energy weapons could be brought to the region at a later date hopefully for air defense purposes.
On Thursday, General Kurilla said that US troops had experienced 78 Iranian attacks since January 2021. The US only responded three times, according to CENTCOM.
Last week’s joint drills came at a time when Saudi Arabia and Iran had agreed to normalize ties and restore diplomatic relations.
While General Kurilla was questioned several times in his testimony on Thursday about the agreement, he repeatedly stated that it still needed to be implemented. Kurilla also said the fact that a China-backed deal was reached does not mean that Iran’s malign activities are no longer a concern of regional countries.
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