WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin finalized a multibillion-dollar sale of a regional missile defense system to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid brewing opportunities for additional sales in the Middle East and Asia, according to U.S. government documents and company officials.
According to a Sept. 20 Pentagon announcement, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., a contract potentially worth $3.9 billion to provide Theater High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) units to the UAE and to the U.S. Army.
The UAE part of the deal, first announced in late 2011, is the first overseas sale of the system, designed to thwart short- and medium-range missile attacks using hit-to-kill technology.
The UAE pact is worth $2.7 billion and includes 192 interceptors, the Pentagon contract announcement said. Those orders are firm and include a batch of at least 48 additional interceptors that was announced in November 2012, according to Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Melissa Hilliard.
Defense officials have said the UAE sale will help counter threats in the Middle East region and reduce dependence on U.S. forces.
The Army’s order is for 110 interceptors and is valued at over $1.2 billion. That deal includes $356 million worth of options that must be exercised before the end of the year, the Pentagon said.
Interceptor deliveries under the contract, both to the Army and the UAE, are expected to begin in 2015 and run through 2019, the Pentagon said.
“Lockheed Martin is focused on delivering these key components of the THAAD Weapon System to our customers,” Mathew Joyce, the company’s vice president and program manager for THAAD, said in a Sept. 23 press release. “We continue to see strong interest from around the globe for the unique capabilities THAAD can provide.”
For example, the U.S. government disclosed late last year that it is in discussions with Qatar over a possible sale of THAAD batteries.
Additionally, during a media briefing here Sept. 10, Mike Trotsky, vice president of air and missile defense at Dallas-based Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said the company had received strong expressions of interest in the THAAD system from Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Japan has also expressed interest in THAAD, Hilliard said.
The THAAD system includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire control system. The interceptor, designed primarily for overseas deployment to protect against regional threats, is capable of engaging missile threats both inside and outside the atmosphere.
Lockheed Martin is under contract for five THAAD batteries with the U.S. Army. The first two were activated in 2008 and 2009. Batteries three and four are expected to be delivered in December, with a fifth to be completed by 2015.
In October 2012, the THAAD system had its first intercept of a medium-range missile, and in April the Army deployed a THAAD system to Guam to defend against a possible attack from North Korea.
The THAAD system has had 11 successful intercepts in 11 attempts since 2005 according to a Lockheed Martin press release. The system experienced a rash of test failures before then.