An American arms sale to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) valued at $3.48 billion, first proposed in September of 2008, was finally signed on December 25 amid growing concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program and Iranian threats to stop oil shipments from transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

The Christmas Day agreement calls for the United States to deliver two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries to the UAE. The deal is the first foreign sale of the THAAD system and will equip UAE forces with an advanced antimissile defense capability.

The U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system performed a successful intercept October 5, 2011, scoring simultaneous kills of two targets. The system has now been ordered by the UAE, as part of a +3 billion order. Photo: Lockheed Martin

As part of the overall package, Lockheed Martin has been awarded an initial contract valued at $1.96 billion to begin production of two THAAD batteries. Included in this deal is a $582.5 million contract awarded to Raytheon to produce two AN/TPY-2 radars and a related Pentagon deal to produce two additional AN/TPY radars valued at up to $363.9 million.

In this government-to-government agreement, the United States will deliver 96 missiles, two Raytheon AN/TPY-2 radars, replacement parts, training, and logistical support to the UAE. No delivery schedule was announced, but the work is tentatively projected to continue through June of 2016.

When first submitted for congressional approval in 2008, the sale was initially valued at $6.9 billion for 144 interceptors and four Raytheon AN/TPY-2 radar sets. The UAE purchase request was cut to 96 interceptors and two radars in 2010.

THAAD is currently the only antimissile system proven successful in intercepting and destroying ballistic missiles of short to intermediate range during their terminal flight phase within and just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Some sources believe the system may also have limited success against ICBMs as well.

A highly mobile missile defense system proven capable of rapid deployment, the THAAD system is capable of accepting input from a variety of other sources including satellites and Aegis and also offers functional interoperability with the Patriot/PAC-3.

The UAE sale is part of a much larger US plan to strengthen and enhance the defense capabilities of her allies in the Persian Gulf as a counter to Iranian military expansion in the region.

Richard D. Dudley

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