US sells $3.5bn of arms to the United Arab Emirates

THE UNITED States has agreed the $3.5bn (£2.26bn) sale of an advanced anti-missile interception system to the United Arab Emirates, part of an accelerating military build-up of its friends and allies near Iran.

The deal, signed on 25 December and announced later by the US Defense Department, “is an important step in improving the region’s security through a regional missile defence architecture,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

The US Congress had been notified of the proposed sale in September 2008 by former President George W Bush’s administration. At that time, the system built by Lockheed Martin Corp had been projected to involve more missiles, more “fire control” units, more radar sets, all at a cost roughly twice as much to UAE.

It marks the first foreign sale of the so-called Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), the only system designed to destroy short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

The US, under the government-to-government deal, will deliver two THAAD batteries, 96 missiles, two Raytheon Co AN/TPY-2 radars plus 30 years of spare parts, support and training with contractor logistics support to the UAE, Little said.