File photo: The Air Intercept Missile-120 (AIM-120) AMRAAM is a beyond visual range air-to-air missile featuring active radar guidance, enabling fighter pilots to engage multiple targets simultaneously

The US State Department announced the approval Thursday of the sale of $650 million worth of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia to help the country protect itself from drone attacks

The approval will allow the Saudis to buy up to 280 of the AIM-120C advanced medium-range missiles and related equipment, replenishing an existing supply of the missiles, the department said.

A State Department spokesperson said the Saudis have already been able to use the missiles to intercept unmanned aircraft that threatened both Saudi and US forces inside the country, mainly from Yemen.

“We’ve seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year,” the spokesperson said.

The Saudis are leading a fight against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Iran its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon .


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