The military operation was reportedly launched in February 2020, five months after the September 2019 attack on two major Saudi oil facilities by Yemen’s Houthi militia, which temporarily wiped out about half of the kingdom’s oil output.
Gunners from the British Army’s 16th Regiment Royal Artillery were quietly deployed to oil fields in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to protect the black gold against possible drone strikes, The Independent has reported, citing a Ministry of Defence spokesperson.
The spokesperson did not reveal “exact timescales or the numbers of personnel involved,” citing “operational security”, but did confirm that the British contribution included sending an ‘advanced military radar system’ to help with the detection of incoming drone attacks.
Defence Minister James Heappey confirmed to the newspaper that the radars deployed were Giraffes, a Swedish-made family of radar surveillance and air defence command and control systems designed for operating alongside medium- and short-range air defence missiles and guns.
Heappey called the troop and equipment deployment “purely defensive in nature”, and indicated that it is still ongoing, at a total cost to British taxpayers of 840,360 pounds.
The military operation was said to have started in February 2020, and to have taken place while London still had a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia in connection with Riyadh’s war in Yemen (the ban, introduced in June 2019, was lifted in July…