Abu Dhabi: The UAE is not under imminent threat from any party nor is it a party to any arms race for real or apparent military supremacy, says an Emirati military expert.
"The building and deploying of advanced anti-missile systems is meant to protect the nation's most valuable assets and to maintain security and stability," retired general Khalid Abdullah Al Buainain, former commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, told Gulf News on the sidelines of a symposium on Middle East Missile and Air Defence.
The UAE, he said, will be the first country in the world to be armed with the anti-missile THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, developed and built by US defence company Lockheed Martin.
"The THAAD anti-missile system is only deployed and operated by the American forces in Poland and Israel, but in the case of the UAE, it will be possessed and fully operated by Emiratis."
The Dh25 billion system's radar is supplied by US defence company Raytheon.
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.
Al Buainain said deployment of the system, which could take three years, would defend the UAE against all missile attacks.
"Unlike the Patriot missile system, which could only defend against 1,000 km ballistic missiles, THAAD is the first system designed to defend against short and intermediate range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere."
Al Buainain said the system would include anti-missile interceptors, launchers, fire control and communications systems, radar and training.
He stressed the system complements the lower-aimed Patriot missile defence system, resulting in a layered defence that ensure a very high probability that ballistic missile threats will be destroyed.
Dr Sami Faraj, a Kuwaiti strategist, said the GCC member countries were expecting different layers of missile attacks.
"Missile attacks can be coming from inside and not only from the other bank of the Gulf," he said referring to Iran.
He spoke about the threats that a nuclear Iran would pose to GCC states.
"The GCC outlook toward Iran is that it will certainly become a source of trouble in the future and that GCC states must be prepared to face that eventuality."
Iran, he said, wants to become a hegemonic power on the cheap and could resort to terrorism, war, the antagonism of Shia in GCC states, or even mishaps in Iraq to launch Iran into that position. Given that Iran is likely to obtain nuclear capabilities, GCC states must be prepared to cope with disasters of national proportions. Therefore, the GCC must band together to ensure mutual survival - not economic survival, but material survival, as humans regardless of religious or ethnic divides.
He pointed to the fact that Iran's lack of transparency concerning its uranium enrichment programme worries GCC states as they are unsure of the security measures set in place on Iran's part to prevent nuclear disaster.
The symposium sessions and workshops addressed early warning platforms, technologies, tactics and strategies; active defence against cruise and ballistic missiles; preempting and preventing cruise and ballistic missile attacks; combating artillery rockets and passive defence.