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Tue 9 Sep 2008 01:49 AM

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US plans $7bn missile-defence sale to UAE

UPDATE 1: High altitude anti-missile system could be used to defend against Iranian strike.

The Bush administration is planning to sell the United Arab Emirates an advanced US missile defense system valued at up to $7 billion that could be used to defend against Iran, people who have attended briefings on the matter said on Monday.

The Pentagon is set to notify the US Congress of the proposed sale, which would be the first of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, several people familiar with the matter said.

THAAD is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. Raytheon Co supplies the system's radar.

Once notified of such a proposed arms sale by the administration, Congress has 30 days to review it but almost never blocks.

In any case, deployment of the THAAD system is "at least months away" and could take more than a year, said a congressional staff member familiar with the matter.

A production contract for the first two THAAD "fire units" was awarded to Lockheed Martin in late 2006. Delivery of the first such unit to the US military is scheduled during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, the company said.

Kenneth Katzman, an expert on the Gulf at the Congressional Research Service, said the UAE has been eager for a "sophisticated antidote" to Iran's missile capabilities.

"The UAE has been concerned for many years about possible retaliation against it for any US or Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities," he said.

For Iran, Katzman added, the UAE could be an attractive target because of its billions of dollars of infrastructure investments. The THAAD system is designed to defend population centers and critical infrastructure among other things.

Craig Vanbebber, a Lockheed Martin spokesman, said several countries had shown interest in buying the THAAD system, "with its significant coverage area and tremendous success in recent testing."

"Lockheed Martin anticipates a strong future for THAAD in the international marketplace," he said.

THAAD is the first system designed to defend against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere.

It complements the lower-aimed Patriot missile defense system, "resulting in a layered defense that ensure a very high probability that ballistic missile threats will be destroyed," according to Lockheed Martin.

Several such systems on land, at sea and potentially aloft are being woven into an expanding U.S. shield against missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.

The proposed $7 billion sale to UAE would include anti-missile interceptors, launchers, fire control and communications systems, the radar and training, among other things, a congressional staff member said. It was not immediately clear whether the UAE was also seeking the Patriot missile defense system.

The sale has been the subject of extensive discussions among US decisionmakers, including over how it would fit into the US Central Command's integrated air-defense plans for the Gulf and the security of the technology, the congressional staff member said. (Reuters)

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Mehdi Gharavi 11 years ago

Love the way US stirs up things and then starts selling its arsenal just to make money out of middle east!! Why would Iran want to ever attack UAE? it's ridiculous even to think of it.

Calvin 11 years ago

1. Who on earth wants to threaten UAE ? Iran don't need UAE. 2. I feel disappointed at the leaders of UAE - to spend wantonly to the glee of the american and britain institutions. 3. MISSILE DEFENCE ??? I have a better use since it looks like it is going to spent. Use it to shoot fireworks into the stratosphere during national holidays. Pretty expensive fireworks I must say. But what else you want to do with a 7Billion white-elephant toy ?

Naz Hussain 11 years ago

Exactly. But why should Uncle Sam stop there? Why not... do a Buy-one-Get-one-Free sales? Or... how about putting some on Ebay? Maybe Kellogg's could start giving them away in exchange for tokens from cereal boxes? There's nothing quite like the most entrepreneurial and simultaneously most war-mongering nation on Earth when it wants to play "rebel without a cause", is there?!

alieghkhan 11 years ago

US should be taken to task for selling arms to countries and yet talking about Peace , what kind of world is this were people are blind, the idea of this is totally a mind game to play with, eventually US is telling UAE that guys we have marked you and the missile will be from US not from Iran.

hombil 11 years ago

Now you know why all along US has been pointing a finger at Iran! Iran should get "royalty" on such sales, as it is being used as a "marketing tool" to sell missiles to UAE and may be to other GCC countries at a later date. Hope UAE does not fall in this trap and spend millions on missiles unnecessarily. Rather spend those millions on country's welfare.

European 11 years ago

UAE a safe place to be? Me and my family feel that the time in UAE has come to an end. It is time to leave Dubai and move back to Europe. Good luck with everything.

hombil 11 years ago

Mr. European, UAE and rest of GCC countries are far more safer than the European countries!

guita 11 years ago

yet another scam by the u.s. government to milk another country with money now that they have sucked dry others. Iran has had always perfectly good relations with the u.a.e. and throughout history, we can see that Iran has never initiated attacks but has only retaliated when invaded. (i.e. the war with iraq). so now that the u.s. economy needs the money of an oil rich country what better to sell than expensive military equipment to boost their sick economy as they did with the saudi's a few years ago.

Adil Nasir 11 years ago

The missile defence is not perfect. The algorithm to calculate the trajectory of an incoming missile is too complicated even for the most powerful supercomputers. They are still working on it but have gotten no where. Imagine, if you toss a stone from one side of the river and your friend across has to intercept the other stone with another stone from the other side....there are too many variables to predict.

John 11 years ago

This is a wise move by the UAE. Anyhow, the USA is not forcing the purchase on UAE, is it? I think not! Long live UAE, long live USA. If you hate USA so much, then throw away all of the USA innovations that make your life so easy. By the way, have you read Ahmadinajad's little comment about intending to shut down the Strait of Hormuz? Do you like the idea of him controlling Hormuz and the UAE's islands? Would you dig it if your profitable little expat life suddenly became not so feasible anymore, because an Iranian missile or two came our way? If you do, then why not pack up and head out for the wonderful expat life in Iran instead? Should you ever live through the experience of having missiles flying over your villa and rattling the windows, while you hide in the basement with gas mask in hand, whilst the air outside is filled with acrid black smoke from burning oil wells, you may change your outlook. Warmest regards- A (non-US citizen) white Muslim who is a McCain and Bush supporter, and an ex-counter-insurgent soldier who knows the terrible realities of war.