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Thu 5 Jul 2012 08:37 AM

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EXCLUSIVE: UAE gov't in final talks for laser-guided rockets

UAE engineers have completed testing with Raytheon, announcement due in February 2013

EXCLUSIVE: UAE gov't in final talks for laser-guided rockets
EAIG and engineers from Raytheon has completed operational testing of TALON laser-guided rockets (Image: Raytheon.com)

UAE engineers have completed testing of a new laser-guided rocket and are in the final stages of talks to start production next year, Arabian Business has learned.

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Advanced Investments Group (EAIG) and engineers from US-based Raytheon has completed operational testing of TALON laser-guided rockets and, once the production contract has been finalised, it is expected that hundreds of thousands of the rockets will be built in the UAE capital.

“The weapon system itself has been completely validated and it has been tested and it has fired at its maximum ranges and has done all the things it is supposed to do,” Kevin Massengill, vice president and regional executive for Raytheon, the world’s largest missile manufacturer, said in an interview with Arabian Business in Dubai.

“The Emiratis have fired it off of their platforms and it is big deal. We are really pleased that it is all technically complete and right now we are in discussions with our Emirati partners on all the myriad of details,” he said.

“The goal is to have it done and dusted and operational and announced by IDEX [International Defence Exhibition]. February 2013 is our target date, but personally I think we will get it done by the end of the year,” he added.

The technology underwent an operational demonstration at the Dubai Airshow in November 2011. Raytheon said at the time the TALON had been tested to the very edge of its performance requirements, including short range (1.2kms) and long range (6kms).

The start of production marks further ties between the US and the Middle East. While around 30 percent of Raytheon’s business comes from outside the US, Massengill said the region was one of its most important markets.

“We don’t go into the numbers [but] the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region is the fastest growing region for Raytheon’s international business and has been for a couple of years and we see no reason why that is going to slack off any time soon.

“As a company, we are putting a lot of resources, calories and horse-power into the region to make sure we can provide as much value as we can to our partners,” he said.

The US and the UAE signed a deal in December valued at as much as US$3.49bn for the first international sale of Lockheed Martin Corp’s newest missile interceptor, according to government officials. While Lockhead Martin will provide the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, Raytheon will supply a radar package valued at US$582.5m.

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