Saudi Arabian Army

The Saudi Arabian Army (Arabic: الجَيْشُ العَرَبيّ السُّعُودِيَّ) or Royal Saudi Land Forces (Arabic: القُوَّاتُ البَرِّيَّةُ المَلَكِيَّة السُّعُودِيَّة) RSLF is the largest service branch and the first pillar of the Armed Forces in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[2]

Saudi Arabian Army
Emblem of the RSLF
CountrySaudi Arabia
TypeLand Forces
RoleGround-based warfare
Size251,500 (2018 est.)[1]
Part ofRoyal Armed Forces
  • GSP (as of 1925)
Parent agencyMinistry Of Defense
  • MOW (until 1933)
AnniversariesJanuary 13 ;117 years ago
EquipmentList of equipment of RSLF
EngagementsList of wars involving RSLF
WebsiteOfficial Website
Lt. Gen. Fahd al-Mutair
War flag


The modern RSLF 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 the Royal Saudi Land Forces was founded, and it is considered the oldest branch of the KSA's military.[3]

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.

Saudi Arabia's armed forces suffer severe difficulties due to their over-reliance on foreign contractor support and unwillingness to conduct realistic training.[4] Much very modern equipment is not properly understood or used.

Mohammad bin Salman was appointed Defense Minister when his father,who had been Minister,became King in 2015.[5]

Wars involved


  • Battle of Riyadh (1745)
  • Battle of Al-Hayer (1764)
  • Battle of Ghrimeel (1789)
  • Ibn Ufaisan's Invasion (1793)
  • Invasion of Qatar (1793– 1798)
  • Battle of Khakeekera (1801)
  • Ottoman–Saudi War (1811– 1818)
  • Rebellion against Egypt Eyalet (1821–1824)
  • Saudi Civil War (1865–1875)
  • Al-Hasa Expedition (1870–1871)
  • Battle of Arwa (1883) (1883)
  • Battle of Mulayda (1891)



The combat strength of the Saudi Army consists of 4 Armoured, 5 Mechanized, 2 Light Infantry (1 Royal Guards, 1 Special Forces) Brigades. 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.[8]

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.[8]


  • 4th (King Khaled) Armoured Brigade
  • 6th (King Fah'd) Armoured Brigade
  • 7th (Prince Sultan) Armoured Brigade
  • 8th (King Fah'd) Armoured Brigade
  • 10th (King Faisal) Armoured Brigade
  • 12th (Khalid ibn al-Walid) Armoured Brigade

A typical Saudi armoured brigade has an armoured reconnaissance company, three tank battalions with 35 tanks each, a mechanized infantry battalion with 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.[9]


  • 11th Mechanized Brigade
  • 12th Mechanized Brigade
  • 13th Mechanized Brigade
  • 14th Mechanized Brigade
  • 20th Mechanized Brigade

A typical Saudi mechanized brigade has an armoured reconnaissance company, one tank battalion with 40 tanks, three mechanized infantry battalions with 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. It has 24 anti-tank guided weapons launchers and four mortar sections with a total of eight 81 mm (3 in) mortars.[9]


  • 16th (King Saud) Light motorized infantry brigade
  • 17th (Abu Bakr Assiddeeq) Light motorized infantry brigade
  • 18th (King Abdullah) Light motorized infantry brigade
  • 19th (?Umar ibn Al-Khatt?b) Light motorized infantry brigade

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.

Airborne Units and Special Security Forces

  • The 1st Airborne Brigade
    • 4th Airborne Battalion
    • 5th Airborne Battalion
  • 64th Special Forces Brigade
    • 85th Special Forces Battalion

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

  • five artillery battalions
    • 14th FA (Towed, 155) Battalion
    • 15th FA (MLRS) Battalion
    • 18th Missile (MLRS) Battalion


  • 1st Aviation Group
  • 2nd Aviation Group
  • 3rd Aviation Group
  • 4th Aviation Group

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

Main equipment

Note that figures below do not include war losses due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Infantry weapons

  • Small arms
Model Image Origin Type Caliber Notes
Browning Hi-Power BelgiumHandgun9×19mm Parabellum
SIG Sauer P226  SwitzerlandHandgun9×19mm Parabellum
Glock AustriaHandgun9×19mm Parabellum
Submachine guns
FN P90 BelgiumSubmachine gunFN 5.7×28mm
Heckler & Koch MP5 GermanySubmachine gun9×19mm ParabellumManufactured by Military Industries Corporation. MP5A2, MP5A3 & MP5K variants.[10]
Heckler & Koch HK33 West GermanyAssault Rifle5.56×45mm NATOHK33E variant.[11]
Heckler & Koch G36 Germany
 Saudi Arabia
Assault Rifle5.56×45mm NATOManufactured by Military Industries Corporation[12]
FN SCAR-H Belgium
 United States
Battle Rifle7.62×51mm NATOUsed by Airborne Units and Special Security Forces in the Royal Saudi Land Forces.[13][14]
M4 carbine United StatesCarbine5.56×45mm NATOSpecial forces only.
Heckler & Koch G3 West Germany
 Saudi Arabia
Battle Rifle7.62×51mm NATOStandard Issue Rifle of Saudi Arabian Army. Manufactured by Military Industries Corporation[15]
M16A2 rifle United StatesAssault Rifle5.56×45mm NATO
FN F2000 BelgiumBullpup assault rifle5.56×45mm NATOThe Saudi Arabian National Guard purchased 55,000 rifles in 2005.[16][17]
Steyr AUG

 AustriaAssault Rifle5.56×45mm NATOStandard assault rifle of the Saudi Arabian Army since 2009. [18][19]
AK-103 RussiaAssault Rifle7.62×39mmUsed by Airborne Units and Special Security Forces in the Royal Saudi Land Forces.[20][21] A license to produce AK-103 rifles was granted to Saudi Arabia in 2017.[22][23][24]
Machine guns
Heckler & Koch MG4 GermanyLight machine gun5.56×45mm NATOStandard light machine gun of the Saudi Arabian army.
Rheinmetall MG3 West GermanyGeneral-purpose machine gun7.62×51mm NATOStandard general-purpose machine gun of the Saudi Arabian army.
FN Minimi BelgiumSquad automatic weapon5.56×45mm NATO
FN MAG BelgiumGeneral-purpose machine gun7.62×51mm NATO
Vektor SS-77 South AfricaGeneral-purpose machine gun

5.56×45mm NATO

M2 Browning United StatesHeavy machine gun12.7×99mm NATOStandard heavy machine gun of the Saudi Arabian army
Sniper rifles
Accuracy International AWM United KingdomSniper Rifle.300 Winchester Magnum
Heckler & Koch PSG1 GermanySniper rifle7.62×51mm NATO
M107/M107A1 United StatesAnti-materiel rifle12.7×99mm NATO
AWP (Arctic Warfare Police) United KingdomSniper Rifle7.62×51mm NATO
Robar RC-50 United StatesAnti-material sniper rifle12.7 × 99 mm NATO
Steyr SSG 69 AustriaSniper rifle7.62×51mm NATO
  • Grenade, rocket, anti-tank, and missile systems
Model Image Origin Type Caliber Notes
Grenade launchers
M203 United StatesGrenade launcher40×46mm SR
AGS-30 RussiaAutomatic grenade launcher40×46mmManufactured by Saudi Arabian Military Industries[25][26]
Portable anti-tank weapons
C90-CR (M3) SpainRocket-propelled grenade90mm
9M133 Kornet Russia
 Saudi Arabia
Anti-tank guided missileTandem HEATManufactured by Saudi Arabian Military Industries[25][26][27]
FGM-148 Javelin United StatesMedium-range Anti-tank guided missile127mmStandard infantry AT weapon. 20 launchers and 150 missiles[28]
MBT LAW United Kingdom
Short-range anti-tank missile system150mmIn service with Royal Saudi Land Forces.
RBS 56B BILL 2 SwedenSACLOS Anti-tank missile127mm
Raybolt South KoreaAnti-tank missileUsed in Yemen.
Mounted anti-tank weapons
HOT FranceAnti-tank MissileTandem charge HEATHOT and HOT-2 delivered in 1989 and 1997 for use on AMX-10.
AGM-114 Hellfire United StatesAnti-tank missileHigh-explosive anti-tank (HEAT)Used on AH-64D and AH-6s
 United StatesAnti-tank missile150mmStandard Issue to Saudi Arabian Army.
  • Mortars
Model Image Origin Type Caliber Notes
M224 mortar United StatesLightweight mortar60mm
Brandt Mle CM60A1 FranceGun-mortar60mm
2R2M 120MM United States
Heavy mortar120mmUsed On M113 APC.
MO-120-RT-61 120mm FranceHeavy mortar120mm
M30 mortar United StatesHeavy mortar106mm


M1 Abrams United StatesM1A2S422 Saudi Arabia bought 373 M1A2 tanks,[29] with further 69 more M1A2S tanks ordered on 8 January 2013 and delivered by 31 July 2014.[30] Later Saudi Arabia decided to upgrade all of M1A2 variants to M1A2S configuration. 153 M1A2S on order since Aug 9, 2016[29] 20 were lost in Yemen[31]
M60 Patton United StatesM60A3390[32]1,300 were acquired. At least 37 are visually confirmed as being destroyed in Yemen.
AMX-30  France AMX-30SA 250 In reserve. Though at least 3 are visually confirmed as being destroyed in Yemen.
M2 Bradley United StatesM2A2400[32]Principal IFV of the Saudi Army.[33] At least 57 lost in Yemen.
AMX-10P France293[32]500[34] were bought from France in 1974; most are now stored as a reserve.
M113 United StatesM113A1
3,112[33] At least 61 visually confirmed as destroyed in Yemen.
M548 United States
Al-Masmak Saudi Arabia5,331x[35][36][37]
HMMWV United StatesM997 HMMWV
Oshkosh M-ATV United StatesMany1859Saudi Arabia began negotiations for an order for an undisclosed number of M-ATVs Saudi Arabia received an estimated 1859. Several dozen have been destroyed in Yemen. With many being donated to Pro-Hadi forces and subsequently getting destroyed in fighting.
URO VAMTAC Spain30[38]
Didgori Medevac GeorgiaArmored medical evacuation vehicle100+Saudi Arabia ordered 100+ Didgori Medevac from Georgia in 2016.
CUCV II[39] United States200+
M270 United StatesMRL 270mm50
Astros II MLRS BrazilMRL 127mmSS-3072
PLZ-45 ChinaSelf-propelled howitzer 155mm54[40]
M109 howitzer United StatesSelf-propelled howitzer 155mmM109A1
AMX-GCT FranceSelf-propelled howitzer 155mm51
M198 howitzer United StatesTowed howitzer 155mm144
FH-70 United KingdomTowed howitzer 155mm40
M114 howitzer United StatesTowed howitzer 155mmM114A1534All are stored in reserve.
M102 howitzer United StatesTowed howitzer 105mm300[33]
M101 howitzer United StatesTowed howitzer 105mmM101A1800All are stored in reserve.
AH-64 Apache United StatesAttack HelicopterAH-64D94A further 29 AH-64D Longbow III requested for more than $1.2bn.
Boeing AH-6 United StatesArmed scout helicopter 0 36 on order for Saudi Arabian National Guard
Bell 406 United StatesScout helicopterBell 406CS13
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk United StatesTransport helicopterUH-60L37A further 24 UH-60L requested for $350m.
Sikorsky S-70 United StatesMedevac helicopterS-70A1L8
Boeing CH-47F Chinook United StatesCargo helicopterCH-47F48Ordered in December 2016.
Aeryon Scout[42] CanadaMiniature UAV10
Saqr,2,3,4[43] Saudi ArabiaUnmanned aerial vehicle??
CAIG Wing Loong[44][45] ChinaMALE
Wing Loong II
Denel Dynamics Seeker[47][48] South Africa
 Saudi Arabia[49]
UCAVSeeker 400?
EMT Luna X-2000[50]  Germany
 Saudi Arabia[51]
Unmanned aerial vehicle??
Selex ES Falco[52] ItalyUnmanned aerial vehicle??
  • (Anti-Air systems belong to Air Defense Force)


RSLF officer

OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) & Student officer
Saudi Arabia
No equivalent
(فريق أول)
Brigadier General
(ملازم أول)
Officer cadet

RSLF enlisted

Junior enlisted Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) Warrant officers (WOs)
First class private
Vice sergeant
Staff sergeant
Warrant officer
E-1/2 E-3 E-4 E-5/6 E-7 E-8 E-9
No chevron
(Arabic: جندي Jundi)
One chevron
(Arabic: جندي أول Jundi Awaal)
Two chevrons
(Arabic: عريف Areef)
Three chevrons
(Arabic: وكيل رقيب Wakil Raqib)
Four chevrons
(Arabic: رقيب Raqib)
Four chevrons with stripe
(Arabic: رقيب أول Raqib Awaal)
(Arabic: رئيس رقباء Rais Ruquba)

See also



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