The U.S. Defense Department has given the go-ahead for as much as $7.6 billion in antimissile technology exports to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The official approval on Friday by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which monitors international weapon exports, of the sales of Lockheed Martin technology gives Congress one month to decide whether to forbid the implementation of the agreements with Doha and Abu Dhabi. Lawmakers do not often block such deals.
The Obama administration has been encouraging friendly nations in the Persian Gulf to build up their missile defense capabilities amid shared concerns about the missile and nuclear danger posed by Iran. The White House's long-term aim is to integrate individual Persian Gulf countries' antimissile resources with deployed U.S. assets to create a regional shield capable of defeating possible Iranian missile strikes.
Qatar is seeking to acquire two of Lockheed's Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense firing systems, 12 launch platforms, 150 missile interceptors, additional components, instruction in using the technology, and maintenance assistance for a total projected price tag of $6.5 billion, according to information supplied by the Defense Department.
The United Arab Emirates wants to purchase 48 more THAAD interceptors, nine launch platforms, and other parts for a total package cost of $1.135 billion. That possible weapons sale comes on top of the $1.96 billion the United Arab Emirates pledged in late 2011 to acquire an initial order of two THAAD firing units.
THAAD technology employs a kinetic kill vehicle to destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon said the planned antimissile exports would support U.S. international policy aims by assisting two friendly states that have been critical sources of "political stability and economic progress in the Middle East."