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The US military is reportedly planning a new test facility in Saudi Arabia.
According to NBC News, three defense officials told the outlet that the site was planned by Central Command (CENTCOM) to develop new counter-drone technology, as well as to test air and missile defenses. Saudi Arabia, officials said, is a desirable location because of its large tracts of government-owned land that would allow the military to test various types of technology without interfering with local populations. Additionally, its location in the Middle East provides geographic opportunity.
“With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the center of gravity for many future regional security initiatives, this is an opportunity,” an official told NBC News.
Fox News contacted the Pentagon, but they did not immediately respond.
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The new facility is currently called the Red Sands Integrated Experiment Center. An existing facility in New Mexico used for long-range missile testing is called White Sands Missile Range. CENTCOM commander, Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, reportedly came up with the idea for the new site during a meeting with Middle Eastern allies in August.
“There was overwhelming support,” an official told NBC.
Two defense officials told the outlet that the United States would likely provide 20% of the funding for the facility and a similar share of the personnel. The allies would provide the rest. Officials said it was unlikely to open before the end of this year.
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The news comes about two months after President Biden visited Saudi Arabia on a trip to the Middle East. While there, Biden said the United States “will remain an active partner in the Middle East.” Weeks later, the State Department approved a potential sale of 300 Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia for about $3.05 billion to help the Arab nation defend against drone and missile attacks. Houthis.
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It also comes at a time when threats from Iran are worrying nations in the Middle East and working together. Israel and several Arab countries have stepped up security cooperation, which Israel’s former UN ambassador Danny Danon told Fox News could extend to military cooperation if the US strikes a deal nuclear with Iran that they fear is not strong enough.