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Pentagon expands counter-drone exercise with Saudi Arabia, eyeing Iran threat

US and Saudi forces teamed up to shoot down simulated complex drone attacks in the Saudi desert last week as Pentagon officials warn Iran is likely learning from Russia's use of one-way attack drones in Ukraine.
Red Sands

The Pentagon has ramped up the scope and complexity of its nascent counter-drone experimentation exercise with Saudi Arabia, employing integrated ground-based interceptors for the first time ever in a joint format with a Middle Eastern military.

Some 600 personnel from the US and Saudi militaries gathered at the Shamal-2 range at the sprawling King Khalid Military City in the desert north of Riyadh last week for the latest iteration of US Central Command’s counter-drone war games, dubbed Red Sands.

It was the second such training event held by the United States and Saudi Arabia since they first kicked off the Red Sands exercise series back in March, signaling the Biden administration’s intent to bolster the kingdom’s defensive capabilities even as fresh allegations of human rights abuses by Saudi security forces have buffeted bilateral ties.

The latest Red Sands marked a number of firsts, Col. Robert A. McVey, CENTCOM’s director of the Red Sands Integrated Experimentation Center, told Al-Monitor.

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