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Persian Gulf Tensions Likely to Bolster Antimissile Sales, Lockheed Says
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin anticipates that growing tensions in the Persian Gulf will cause the region's Arab states to increase their acquisition of missile defense systems, Reuters reported on Wednesday (see GSN, April 10).
The U.S. company is pitching its antimissile technology to friendly Gulf countries, vice president for missile defense programs Dennis Cavin said. Lockheed in December concluded a $3.6 billion deal to sell its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to the United Arab Emirates.
"We are in discussions with the other (Gulf) nations through government-to-government relations," Cavin said on the margins of a missile defense forum in Abu Dhabi.
“All the [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries have expressed an interest in the THAAD,” the Lockheed executive said. The system is the sole technology with the ability shoot down short- and intermediate-range missiles above and below the Earth’s atmosphere, Reuters reported.
Lockheed hopes to build on the THAAD deal with Abu Dhabi with other sales of the technology in the Gulf. “I can’t tell you who is the closest to making the full procurement, but I feel very optimistic that as long as the threat [of Iran] continues to evolve, there will be many opportunities to provide the capabilities.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Its members are keeping a close eye on nuclear and missile activities of regional power Iran.
Kuwait recently spent $900 million to purchase 209 sophisticated Patriot air-defense missiles and Saudi Arabia has allocated $1.7 billion for enhancements to its own Patriot units.
Cavin said he sees a “dramatic improvement” in ties with GCC countries and in Gulf states reaching bilateral understandings with the United States to establish a cohesive missile and air defense framework for the region.
“We are not there yet … but everybody acknowledges that it’s something that needs to be done quickly,” he said (Reuters, April 11).
In an address on Wednesday at the Middle East Missile and Air Defense Symposium, GCC Secretary General Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani said, “We know very well the complete strengths and weaknesses facing us. We are in a position of strength to implement solutions for stability in the Middle East,” the Emirates News Agency reported.
"Building a comprehensive plan for a missile defense shield is an important strategy for protecting all our countries," he said. "Cooperation is practical. It sends a strong message to our allies and enemies. What about our ability to defend against a chemical or biological attack. We should be asking the question: are our air defenses suitable? We have to work more and more especially if we need to build confidence to defend against threats and enemies.
''We need to develop an integrated missile defense shield," according to al-Zayani. "We are asking our allies to help us individually and collectively. The shield (as a solution) should be flexible and comprehensive. It should be a workable solution and not theoretical," he said (Emirates News Agency, April 11).
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