The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to upgrade its missile defense systems and integrate them regionally with other Gulf Arab states to shore up its defenses, top military officials said.The six oil exporting Gulf states - worried about potential retaliatory strikes by Iran in the event of US or Israeli military action against Tehran - have been spending billions of dollars on the latest defense systems.
Three dozen countries possessed ballistic missiles half of whom were in Asia or the Middle East, Major-General Mohammed Suhaih al Kaabi, Deputy Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, said at the Middle East Missile & Air Defense Symposium being held in Abu Dhabi on 05-06 December 2010.
'The threat of attack of long-range ballistic missiles is real. We must be prepared to defend our people, nation and region against any threat,' he said.
He did not name the countries, but two military officials at the conference in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, cited countries such as Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan.
'There is a high concentration of theatre ballistic missiles ... (in the region) ... that can cause significant damage,' Brigadier General Mohammed Murad al-Baloushi, Commander of UAE Air Force & Air Defense Operation Centre, said. He said the UAE, therefore, needed to equip itself with the latest missile systems.
The UAE was in advanced stages of procuring and upgrading its Patriot missiles and theatre ballistic missile weaponry, he said without elaborating. It is also building up a sophisticated missile defense system and operating a Centre for Integrated Air & Missile Defense that would likely be a model for other Gulf countries.
The Gulf state is expected to buy the THAAD (Theatre High Altitude Area Defense) missile system made by Lockheed Martin Corp.
That deal may come in early 2011, a defense source told Reuters on Sunday. 'Other Gulf states are also thinking about THAAD,' the defense source said. He declined to be named as the deal is not yet signed.
UAE defense officials declined to comment on the deal.
Efforts are under way to improve integration and interoperability of the Gulf's missile defense systems. 'An integrated missile defense system is the best to counter any threat,' said Kaabi. But this could take time.