Saudi Arabian Army

(Arabic;) «القُوّات البَرِيَة المَلَكيَّة السُّـعُوديَّة»
Founded As early as 1745[1] (271 years)
Country Arabian Kingdom
Allegiance Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Branch SAAF (as of 1902)
Type Army
Role Ground-based warfare
Size +300,000 active (2012 est.)[2]
578,500 reserve and National Guard[3]
+878,500 total personnel (2015 est.)
Part of
  • MODA (as of 1943)
    AOD (June 1933– Nov 1943)
  • COGS (as of 1929)
Headquarters «Airport Rd, Riyadh 11165»
Anniversaries «January 13» (114 years ago)
Chief of Army Staff GA / Abdul Rahman Al Banyan
Vice Chief of Staff GEN / Eid Al-Shalawi
Commander of Special Forces GEN / Fahd Al Saud
A column of M-113 APCs and other military vehicles of the Royal Saudi Land Force travels along a channel cleared of mines during Operation Desert Storm., Kuwait - 1 March 1991.
The 20th Brigade of the Royal Saudi Land Force displays a 155 mm (6 in) GCT self-propelled gun, left, and AMX-10P infantry combat vehicles
A Saudi M60A3 tank being transferred
Saudi Arabian army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter during Operation Desert Shield.
A Saudi Arabian (HMMWV) with a QCB machine gun mounted on top depart for the seaport of Mogadishu in Somalia

The Saudi Arabian Army (KSA) (Arabic: الجيش العربي السعودي), also called Royal Saudi Land Forces (Arabic: القوات البرية الملكية الـسعودية), is the largest branch of the Saudi Arabia Armed Forces. The Saudi Arabia Ground Armed Forces (SAAF) divides its manpower between two main entities, the National Guard (SANG) and the Army [RSLF]. The Chief of the Saudi General Staff until 2011 was Field Marshal Saleh Al-Muhaya.[4]


The modern Saudi Army has its roots in the first Saudi State, which was formed as early as 1745, and is considered to be the birth year of the Saudi Army. As of 13 January 1902 was founded as the Royal Saudi Land Forces, and is the Oldest branch of the KSA military.[1]

Other events that led to an expansion of the Saudi Army were the Arab–Israeli conflict in 1948, the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the subsequent fears of possible Shia's actions and in the last years the first Gulf War in 1990. In the year 2000, Saudi Arabia's government spent billions of dollars to expand the Saudi Forces including the Saudi Army.

Wars involving Saudi Army


US Marines training members of the Saudi Arabian Army

The combat strength of the Saudi Army consists of 3 armoured brigades, 5 mechanized infantry brigades, three light motorized rifle brigades, and one airborne brigade. It also has five independent artillery battalions and an aviation command. The Saudi Army deployed the 12th Armoured Brigade and 6th Mechanized Brigade at King Faisal Military City in the Tabuk area. It deployed the 4th Armoured Brigade, and 11th Mechanized Brigade at King Abdul Aziz Military City in the Khamis Mushayt area. It deployed the 20th Mechanized Brigade and 8th Mechanized Brigade at King Khalid Military City near Hafr al Batin. The 10th Mechanized Brigade is deployed at Sharawrah, which is near the border with Yemen and about 150 kilometers from Zamak.[5]

Despite the addition of a number of units and increased mobility achieved during the 1970s and 1980s, the army's personnel complement has expanded only moderately since a major buildup was launched in the late 1960s. The army has been chronically understrength, in the case of some units by an estimated 30 to 50 percent. These shortages have been aggravated by a relaxed policy that permitted considerable absenteeism and by a serious problem of retaining experienced technicians and noncommissioned officers (NCOs). The continued existence of a separate national guard also limited the pool of potential army recruits.[5]


A typical Saudi armoured brigade has an armoured reconnaissance company, three tank battalions with 42 tanks each, a mechanized infantry battalion with 54 AIFVs/APCs, and an artillery battalion with 18 self-propelled guns. It also has an army aviation company, an engineer company, a logistic battalion, a field workshop, and a medical company.[6]


A typical Saudi mechanized brigade has an armoured reconnaissance company, one tank battalion with 42 tanks, three mechanized infantry battalions with 54 AIFVs/APCs each, and an artillery battalion with 18 self-propelled guns. It also has an army aviation company, an engineer company, a logistic battalion, a field workshop, and a medical company. It has 24 anti-tank guided weapons launchers and four mortar sections with a total of eight 81 mm (3 in) mortars.[6]


Each infantry brigade consists of three motorized battalions, an artillery battalion, and a support battalion. Army brigades should not be confused with Saudi Arabian National Guard brigades.


The Airborne Brigade is normally deployed near Tabuk. The Airborne Brigade has two parachute battalions and three Special Forces companies. Saudi Arabia is expanding its Special Forces and improving their equipment and training to help deal with the threat of terrorism. The Special Forces have been turned into independent fighting units to help deal with terrorists, and report directly to Prince Sultan.

Artillery Battalions

The separate Royal Guard Regiment consists of four light infantry battalions.

Saudi Arabian Army Structure (click to enlarge).


Lieutenant First Lieutenant Captain Major Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Brigadier General Major General Lieutenant General General

Enlisted Ranks

Enlisted Ranks
Private Private First Class Corporal Vice Sergeant Sergeant Sergeant First Class Master Sergeant

Main equipment

Infantry weapons

Small arms

Model Image Type Quantity Acquired Origin Notes
Browning Hi-Power Semi-automatic pistol  Belgium
Glock 17 Semi-automatic pistol  Austria
FN P90 Submachine gun  Belgium
H&K MP5 Submachine gun  Germany
Heckler & Koch G3 Battle Rifle  Germany
Heckler & Koch G36 Assault Rifle  Germany
M4 carbine Assault Rifle  United States
Steyr AUG Assault Rifle  Austria
AK-103 Assault Rifle  Russia
AUG A1 HBAR Automatic Rifle  Austria
FN MAG General-purpose machine gun  Belgium
M2 Browning Heavy machine gun  United States

Grenade, rocket, anti-tank, and missile systems

Model Type Quantity Acquired Origin Notes
M203 Single shot grenade launcher  United States
FGM-148 Javelin Anti-tank guided missile  United States
Swingfire Anti-tank guided missile  United Kingdom
Vickers Vigilant Anti-tank missile 500  United Kingdom
M47 Dragon Anti-tank missile 4,692  United States
AGM-114 Hellfire Anti-tank guided missile 2,954  United States
MILAN Anti-tank guided missile  France
Germany West Germany
HOT Anti-tank guided missile 3,500  France
Germany West Germany
HOT 2 Anti-tank guided missile 249  France
Germany West Germany
Bill 2 SACLOS Anti-tank missile 200  Sweden
SS.11 Anti-tank guided missile 2,000  France
BGM-71 TOW Anti-tank guided missile 10,738  United States
BGM-71C ITOW Anti-tank guided missile 2,538  United States
BGM-71D TOW-2 Anti-tank guided missile 6,210  United States
BGM-71E TOW-2A Anti-tank guided missile 5,131  United States


Model Type Quantity Acquired Origin Notes
M224 Mortar Mortar N/A N/A  United States
Brandt Mle CM60A1 Mortar N/A N/A  France
MO-120-RT-61 120mm Mortar 200 200  France
2R2M 120MM Mortar 28 28  France
M30 107 mm Mortar Mortar N/A  United States



M1 Abrams  United States M1A2S 442

+ 153 on order

Saudi Arabia bought 373 M1A2 tanks,[7] with further 69 more M1A2S tanks ordered on 8 January 2013 and delivered by 31 July 2014.[8] Later Saudi Arabia decided to upgrade all of M1A2 variants to M1A2S configuration. 153 M1A2S on order since Aug 9, 2016[7]
M60 Patton  United States M60A3 450[9] 485 were acquired, currently in reserve.
AMX-30  France AMX-30S 145[9] 250[10] were bought between 1973–1974. Now it serves as a reserve tank of frontier guards. Saudi Arabia has been retiring AMX-30 from the stock by selling it to numerous other countries. Many of the AMX-30's were put in store immediately upon arrival in Saudi Arabia and have seen almost no use.

Infantry fighting vehicles

M2 Bradley  United States M2A2 400[9] Principal IFV of the Saudi Army.[11]
AMX-10P  France 500[9] 500[12] were bought from France in 1974; most are now stored as a reserve.

Armored personnel carriers

M113  United States /  Turkey Many 1,112 364 had been upgraded in Turkey.[11]
TPz Fuchs Germany West Germany NBC reconnaissance
CP version
Al-Masmak  Saudi Arabia 2,750 x[13][14]
Nexter Aravis  France 200 [15]
Panhard M3  France 150

Utility vehicles

HMMWV  United States various configurations 15,000+
Oshkosh M-ATV United States Many 450 Saudi Arabia began negotiations for an order for an undisclosed number of M-ATVs Saudi Arabia received an estimated 450
URO VAMTAC  Spain 300 [16]
Didgori Medevac  Georgia Medical APC 100 [17][18][19]
CUCV II[20]  United States 2,000+

Artillery and missile systems

M270  United States MRL 270mm 50
Astros II MLRS  Brazil MRL 127mm SS-30 72
PLZ-45  People's Republic of China Self-propelled howitzer 155mm 54[21]
M109 howitzer  United States Self-propelled howitzer 155mm M109A5
AMX-GCT  France Self-propelled howitzer 155mm 51
M198 howitzer  United States Towed Howitzer 155mm 42
FH-70  United Kingdom Towed Howitzer 155mm 40
M114 howitzer  United States Towed Howitzer 155mm M114A1 50 All are stored in reserve.
M102 howitzer  United States Towed Howitzer 105mm 140[11]
M101 howitzer  United States Towed Howitzer 105mm M101A1 100 All are stored in reserve.

Army aviation

AH-64 Apache  United States Attack Helicopter AH-64D 94 A further 29 AH-64D Longbow III requested for more than $1,200m.
Boeing AH-6 United States Armed Scout Helicopter 0 36 on order for Saudi Arabian National Guard
Bell 406  United States Scout Helicopter Bell 406CS 13
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk  United States Transport Helicopter UH-60L 37 A further 24 UH-60L requested for $350m.
Sikorsky S-70  United States Medevac Helicopter S-70A1L 8
Boeing CH-47 Chinook  United States Cargo Helicopter ? ?
Aeryon Scout[22]  Canada Miniature UAV 10
Saqr,2,3,4[23]  Saudi Arabia Miniature UAV ? ?

See also


  1. 1 2 Wynbrandt, James (2004). A Brief History of Saudi Arabia (1st ed.). p. 353. Retrieved Oct 10, 2016.
  2. "Political Regimes in the Arab World: Society and the Exercise of Power". September 4, 2012.
  3. "Saudi King Salman cements hold on power". 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  4. Royal Saudi Land Forces.
  5. 1 2 Royal Saudi Land Forces
  6. 1 2 Accéder Google Francais
  7. 1 2 "The 2006 Saudi Shopping Spree: $2.9B to Upgrade M1 Abrams Tank Fleet". 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on October 25, 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  8. "Saudi Arabia Orders 69 More M1A2S Abrams Heavy Tanks"., 8 January 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Royal Saudi Land Force Equipment". Global Security. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  10. "American Alliance Policy in the Middle East". Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  11. 1 2 3 Military Balance 2005- page 135
  12. "Al-Masmak Masmak Nyoka Mk2 MRAP Mine Resistant Armored Personnel Carrier technical data sheet - Army Recognition - Army Recognition". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  13. "Saudi Al-Masmak Achieves the Highest Protection Level Recorded for MRAP". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  14. "- " "". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  15. Administrator. "30 VAMTAC's to Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  19. "Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle: CUCV II". Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  20. Chinese Guns Conquer Arabia
  21. "picture of Saudi Army with Aeryon Scout".

External links

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