US signs $3.5 billion arms sale to UAE

Deal includes advanced anti-missile interception system; agreement part of accelerating military buildup of US near Iran.

By REUTERS
December 31, 2011 18:16
2 minute read.
The Pentagon

The Pentagon 311. (photo credit: Digital Vision)

WASHINGTON - The United States has signed a $3.5 billion sale of an advanced anti-missile interception system to the United Arab Emirates, part of an accelerating military buildup of its friends and allies near Iran.

The deal, signed on December 25 and announced on Friday night by the US Defense Department, "is an important step in improving the region's security through a regional missile defense architecture," Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

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The US Congress had been notified of the proposed sale in September 2008 by former President George W. Bush's administration. At that time, the system built by Lockheed Martin Corp had been projected to involve more missiles, more "fire control" units, more radar sets.

It marks the first foreign sale of the so-called Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), the only system designed to destroy short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere.

The United States, under the government-to-government deal, will deliver two THAAD batteries, 96 missiles, two Raytheon Co AN/TPY-2 radars plus 30 years of spare parts, support and training with contractor logistics support to the UAE, Little said.

"Acquisition of this critical defense system will bolster the UAE's air and missile defense capability and enhance the already robust ballistic missile defense cooperation between the United States and the UAE," he said.

UAE deal follows recent US arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The THAAD follows a $1.7 billion direct commercial contract this year to upgrade Saudi Arabia's Patriot anti-missile missiles, and a sale this year of 209 advanced Patriot missiles to Kuwait, valued at roughly $900 million, the Defense Department said.

On Thursday, the Obama administration announced it had sealed a deal on December 24 to sell $29.4 billion in advanced Boeing Co F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, the priciest single US arms sale yet.

The Saudi sale involves 84 new F-15SA models to be delivered starting in 2015 plus upgrades to 70 F-15s already in the Saudi fleet and new munitions. Congress had been notified of that deal in October 2010.

The ongoing US buildup of Saudi Arabia as a counterweight to Iran is projected to total as much as $60 billion over 10 to 15 years, including the F-15s, three types of helicopters and advanced missiles, bombs and other hardware and services.

In another pending arms sale to the region, the Obama administration formally proposed in November to sell 600 "bunker buster" bombs and other munitions to UAE in an estimated $304 million package to counter what the Pentagon called current and future regional threats.

Israel is also being built up. It is set to receive Lockheed Martin's new radar-evading F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, the first country in the region that will fly it.

Lockheed, the Pentagon's top supplier by sales, is being awarded an initial US government contract worth up to $1.96 billion for the two THAAD batteries under the government-to-government sale to UAE, the Defense Department said in its contract digest on Friday. It said the work was to be carried out through June 30, 2016.

Raytheon's related deal is valued at up to $582.5 million for radars and services, with details expected to be finalized in June 2012, the digest said. It said Raytheon also was getting a Pentagon deal worth up to $363.9 million to start building two more AN/TPY-2 radar sets.


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