Satellite Imagery Suggests Saudi Arabia Is Building Ballistic Missile Factory

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On January 23, U.S. missile experts released satellite imagery that shows rocket engine production and a missile test facility at Saudi Arabia’s missile base at al-Watah, west of Riyadh. The analysis suggests that Saudi Arabia is now capable of indigenously developing ballistic missiles, and the new imagery shows a rocket engine test stand with a horizontal setup, suggesting that the missiles will be solid fuel. However, is unclear whether the facility is currently functionally capable of producing these missiles.

Update: U.S.-based missile experts believe the facility was designed and built by outside entities. Michael Ellman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies suggests that the factory closely resembles a missile facility in Lantian, China.1


    1. “Saudi Arabia’s missile race,” The Economist, February 16, 2019,
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Jeremy Chin, "Satellite Imagery Suggests Saudi Arabia Is Building Ballistic Missile Factory," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 24, 2019, last modified April 8, 2019,