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Tue 21 Jun 2011 04:29 PM

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Saudi inks $1.7bn deal to upgrade missiles system

Raytheon nets contract to upgrade Patriot system, eyes growth in nuclear market

Saudi inks $1.7bn deal to upgrade missiles system
The six oil exporting Gulf states have been spending billions of dollars in recent years on the latest defense systems

Saudi Arabia has signed a $1.7bn deal with Raytheon, the world’s largest missile maker, to upgrade its missile defence system, the company said Tuesday.

The contract will overhaul the Gulf state’s existing Patriot Air and Missile Defence System, Raytheon said in a statement from the Paris Air Show.

The six oil exporting Gulf states have been spending billions of dollars in recent years on the latest defence systems. The region is forecast to spend as much as $100bn in the next few years in overhauling their military, in part to counter the perceived threat posed by Iran.

The UAE was in March named the region’s largest arms importer and the sixth largest buyer of weapons worldwide by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

In November, Raytheon announced plans to deliver arms worth $4bn to Saudi Arabia as part of a wider $60bn US weapons package, the largest deal to a foreign country in US history.

The company is also eyeing opportunities in Saudi’s growing nuclear power sector, after the OPEC kingpin said it would invest $300bn in building 16 nuclear reactors over the next two decades.

The reactors, which will meet 20 percent of the kingdom’s electricity needs, will need round-the-clock military protection, said James R. Brungess, a Riyadh-based senior executive at Raytheon.

“They have to protect them somehow,” Brungess said in an interview Sunday in Paris.

“That is one of the other areas we are growing in. When you have these huge extended infrastructure projects one of the things you have to do is protect them and at least provide surveillance and… get some quick respondents if something bad takes place.”

The company also said its first class of Afghan Air Force students had completed training at a UAE location as part of a $42.8m three-year contract for a NATO-backed training scheme.

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