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Preparations underway for Saudi–US Red Sands exercise

10th January 2024 - 17:09 GMT | by Damian Kemp in London


MARSS integrated its NIDAR with the EOS remote weapon station and gun for Red Sands 23.2 exercise. (Photo: MARSS)

Last year’s Rad Sands Live Fire (RSLF) included a demonstration of C-UAS capability and the second of this year’s events in October/November will be expected to include similar activity and companies from earlier events such as MARSS.

The latest two iterations of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sands exercises, Red Sands 2024, have been planned for this year and will build upon last year’s RSLF Exercise 23.2 which focused on C-UAS operations.

RSLF Exercise 23.1 took place in March 2023 and was the first of its kind between Saudi Arabia and US. It was followed up by the second event in September 2024. Red Sands 24.2 Hard Kill Challenge has been scheduled for November 2024 and will focus on multi-domain lethality and actions to counter small-UAS.

The Red Sands Live Fire Exercise 23.2 operation sought to strengthen military relations between the US and Saudi Arabia while showcasing how different technologies could defeat varied attacks.

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It also served to develop UAS combative procedures while increasing the defensive readiness of the two nations against emerging UAS threats.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Gen Michael ‘Erik’ Kurilla observed the exercise and described it as a culmination of months of rapid prototyping and continued development building off the earlier exercise.

Gen Kurilla said: ‘Rapid development sprints, as demonstrated in Red Sands 23.2, allow us to tackle the most challenging military problems and realise solutions to emergent threats more rapidly than traditional development.

‘Doing this in conjunction with our close Saudi Arabian partners, adds to the effectiveness of this developing technique and allows us to achieve our goals faster.’

Defence technology company MARSS took part in RSLF 23.2 with its NiDAR system and is set to take part in this year’s iteration.

Jeff Tipton, business development director in defence at MARSS, said the exercises were a highly complex undertaking, involving a range of different counter UAS technologies and UAS targets, as well as a variety of sophisticated enemy tactics, techniques and procedures-based scenarios.

‘We were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of our live NiDAR C2 centre to the US CENTCOM Commander, as well as the chief of general staff of the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and his Component Commanders,’ Tipton remarked.

MARSS partnered with EOS Defense Systems USA (EOS) as the remote weapons station/cannon provider during the C-UAS Hard Kill (HK) challenge in an effort to demonstrate CUAS defeat options to the group.

‘For us, the intent is to show the full NiDAR cueing capability live at Red Sands 2024, and defeat drones from NiDAR [detection] to EOS HK,’ Tipton added.

Damian Kemp


Damian Kemp

Damian Kemp has worked in the defence media for 25 years covering military aircraft, defence …

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