A Lockheed Martin official said on Tuesday that he expects an agreement to be concluded this spring for the United Arab Emirates to buy an anti-ballistic missile system reputedly worth about $7 billion.
“I think … sometime this spring, we’ll get some positive news that the two governments have reached an agreement” on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, said Dennis Cavin, Lockheed Martin vice president for international air and missile defense.
“The discussions started way back in 2007 when the Emirati government expressed interest in an integrated air and missile defense system,” he said at a defense exposition in Abu Dhabi.
The missile defense consists of “the Patriot PAC-3 system, the THAAD system and then the integration” of the two.
“It’s a layered defense system,” said Thomas McGrath, Lockheed Martin vice president and THAAD program manager, with Patriot missiles covering lower altitudes while THAAD covers higher ones.
Patriot missiles can also target cruise missiles and aircraft, while THAAD exclusively targets ballistic missiles, McGrath said.
“The two systems are integrated so that THAAD’s feeding data to Patriot all along the surveillance aspects all the way through the fire control — they exchange data,” Cavin said.
Manufacturers from around the world are racing to seal contracts with Gulf states, fearful of Iran and with their spending power buoyed by high oil prices.
The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait — along with Jordan are set to spend $68 billion (49.6 billion euros) on defense in 2011, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Their spending is expected to reach nearly $80 billion in 2015.