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Thursday, July 31, 2008

UAE and Oman buy $115m American anti-tank missiles

Tom Ashby
Last Updated: July 30. 2008 3:31PM UAE / July 30. 2008 11:31AM GMT
Two US weapons makers have won a US$115 million (Dh422mn) contract to produce portable anti-tank missiles for the UAE and Oman, the companies said.The Javelin missile, made by a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, is a medium-range missile and can be fired by a single soldier from a shoulder-mounted launcher. “The joint venture expects to deliver Javelin to the UAE and Oman in the next 18 months,” Raytheon said today.

Over the last decade the UAE has spent $15 billion on military hardware imports to build up a modern fighting force on par with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia or Iran, but more recently the Government has focused on developing a home-grown industry. It is also evaluating a multi-layered missile defence system, including short, medium and long-range defensive missiles.In June Raytheon signed a partnership with Emirates Advanced Investments to develop and build laser-guided rockets and agreed to work on future defence technology projects together. Under the deal, some research and development functions will be based in the UAE.

The first warship to be built in the UAE is under construction at the Abu Dhabi Ship Building yard in Musaffah, while small arms production began last year in Dubai with the establishment of a new manufacturer, Caracal.The Javelin is known as a “fire and forget” missile because it automatically guides itself to the target after launch, allowing the gunner to either take cover to avoid counterfire or engage another threat, said Hady Mourad, the vice president of the Javelin Joint Venture at Lockheed Martin.

It is effective against all known armour and considered critical to gaining the upper hand in open desert warfare. It is currently in use by the US Army, US Marine Corps and 10 allied customers, the company said.The UAE has yet to decide on which contractor to choose for its long-range missile defence system.Russian and US contractors are among those hoping to secure the deal.The Pentagon has formally notified US Congress that the UAE may purchase up to $9.3bn worth of missiles from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The possible munitions involved in this purchase include the Patriot, a long-range, high-altitude missile designed to destroy aircraft, as well as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, and the Slamraam, a surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missile.

The Slamraam is also effective in engaging aerial threats including helicopters and cruise missiles beyond line of sight.
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