Abu Dhabi: The UAE will be armed with advanced US missile defence system, a senior American official said on Sunday.
"The US Congress this year endorsed a UAE's request submitted in December last year to possess an advanced missile defence system," said Mary Beth Long, US assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs.
The deal is estimated to cost up to $7 billion (Dh25.76 billion). The proposed sale would be the first of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, a system developed and built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
The system's radar is supplied by Raytheon Co. US administration and Congress officials have said the advanced anti-missile system would be used to defend infrastructure and logistics in the UAE from any hostile action.
However, US officials cautioned any deployment of the THAAD system is "at least months away" and could even take more than a year.
Long reiterated the US Administration was committed to defending its allies against cruise and ballistic missiles attacks and providing all related capabilities and early warning systems.
The proposed sale would be the first of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, a system developed and built by Lockheed Martin Corp. The system's radar is supplied by Raytheon Co.
US administration and Congress officials have said the advanced anti-missile system would be used to defend infrastructure and logistics in the Emirates region from any hostile action by neighbouring Iran, which has been engaged in developing an ambitious missile programme.
Analysts say a hostile US or Israeli action against Iran may suck the UAE into a regional conflict for one very good reason - Bahrain's capital city of Manama also serves as home to the US Fifth Fleet and US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).
Iran recently threatened, if attacked, to block the Straits of Hormuz.
The proposed $7 billion sale would include anti-missile interceptors, launchers, fire control and communications systems, radar and training, sources said. It is not clear whether the UAE would also seek the Patriot missile defence system.
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 land, sea and airborne systems are being woven into an expanding US anti-ballistic missile defence shield.
However, US officials cautioned that any deployment of the THAAD system is "at least months away" and could even take more than a year.
Delivery of the first batteries of the system to the US military itself are scheduled during the fiscal year starting October 1, Lockheed has said.
Long said that the American Administration won't change the course of its security policy.
Threat in the Gulf
Riad Kahwaji, CEO, the institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, organisers of the event, said the threat of missile proliferation is spreading to the Gulf region.
Several former armed forces generals will be among speakers at the two-day symposium, which will also be attended by senior government representatives, defence experts and diplomats from the GCC and abroad.
"Presentations and discussions will help regional militaries establish a better understanding of the form of the threat and ways to address it," Kahwaji said.
The symposium is being held at the Armed Forces Officers' Club, under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Sessions and workshops address early warning platforms, technologies, tactics and strategies; active defence against cruise and ballistic missiles; pre-empting and preventing cruise and ballistic missile attacks; combating artillery rockets; and passive defence.
US weapons and defence technology manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are among sponsors who give presentations at the event.