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Mon 23 Feb 2009 03:39 PM

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UAE signs deal for 224 anti-aircraft missiles

Letter of offer and acceptance has been agreed between UAE and US governments.

The UAE has signed a deal for 224 anti-aircraft missiles, made by a US defence firm, on the opening day of the annual Abu Dhabi defence conference, it was reported on Monday. A letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the latest version of Raytheon’s advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles has been signed by the UAE and US governments, according to UAE daily The National.

The company, which is exhibiting at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference, confirmed the missiles could be launched from the air or the ground.

A senior Raytheon official said the company was expected to make its first delivery of the equipment within two to three years.

“It really depends on how the governments want that to happen,” said Cesar Rodriguez, the programme manager at the company’s missile systems division.

The company had also been involved with a UAE firm to manufacture an air-to-surface missile that could be launched from helicopters, it added.

The deal comes a day after UAE president Sheikh Khalifa pledged to modernise the Emirate’s military, stating on the eve of the conference that his goal was for a world class defence system.

The UAE Air Force has earlier versions of the missiles, as do other countries in the Middle East but it will be the first country in the region to acquire the advanced version.

The missiles can be launched from the surface, but they are also fitted to F-16 fighter jets.

“That’s one missile doing the two missions, it simplifies the logistics, simplifies the acquisition,” Rodriguez said.

A joint venture between Raytheon and the Emirates Advanced Investments to provide the UAE Air Force and potential international customers with laser-guided missiles was also announced on Sunday.

The scheme will involve Emirati engineers working with their US counterparts in the planning, design and manufacture of the missile.

Richard Janik, Raytheon’s director of the Talon laser-guided rocket programme, said the missile was still being tested in the US, but could be in production line by the end of this year.