Abu Dhabi: The UAE and US governments are in talks regarding the purchase of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) by May from Lockheed Martin, valued around $7 billion, according to Stan Green, Vice-President of International Air and Missile Defense Business Development at Lockheed Martin.
THAAD, a key element of the Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMDS), was originally designed for the US to help defend troops, allied forces, population centres and critical infrastructure from attacks by short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Speaking about the baseline THAAD system to be purchased by the UAE, Green said there was no agreement to provide research and development on the baseline product to the UAE.
"In order to provide R and D activity to the UAE, the baseline product has to be on the ground first," he said on the sidelines of a meeting held by Lockheed Martin on the second day of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex), yesterday.
The THAAD comprises five major components: interceptors, launchers, a radar, fire control unit and THAAD-specific support equipment. All components have been integrated, tested and successfully demonstrated during the current flight-test programme, its maker has said.
The first two THAAD batteries have been delivered to the US Army, and awaiting material release in 2011. Some of the features THAAD offers include being able to defend against short-, medium- and possibly intermediate-range ballistic missiles; unique high endo- and low exo-atmospheric intercept; high lethality with proven hit-to-kill ability; high firepower and sustainability for resistance to mass attack; high single short-kill probability; and flexible emplacement configurations to adapt to prevailing threats. The UAE in December 2008 signed a contract with the US government, again through Lockheed, to purchase the PAC-3 version of the Patriot air defence missile.
Some of the features PAC 3 provides include: an accurate millimetre wave seeker coupled with agile airframe, and defence against tactical ballistic missiles (TBM) armed with weapons of mass destruction. The missile is also capable of countering TBM, and air-breathing threats in the presence of weather and electronic counter-measures. There are 16 missiles in a Patriot battery.
When asked if the organisation planned to expand its presence in the GCC, Green said: "Given the political situation across the Middle East, I do anticipate more focus on hostile missiles. We are ready to provide the same capability that we currently offer our international customers."
Regarding the UAE's current security level Green said: "I cannot comment on that question, however I can say that it must be going well and smooth given the sort of exhibition they are launching. Idex tells you the whole situation."
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the US, Lockheed Martin is described as a global security company that employs about 132,000 people.
It describes itself as being engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems.
The corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion, a spokesman told Gulf News.