Wednesday, June 25, 2008

But it's not good enough for Obama

"I will cut investments in 'unproven' obama_will_cut.jpgmissile defense systems"

GERTZ - Gulf states in negotiations for THAAD missile defense systems

PARIS -- Several Persian Gulf states have been examining a new U.S.-origin missile defense system as Iran's strategic threat looms in the region.

But none of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states were expected to win approval to purchase the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System from Lockheed Martin. Industry sources said the United States would probably not approve any international sales of THAAD until the first missile defense units were delivered to the U.S. Army in 2009.

Tthe Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System is scheduled for fielding by 2009. Once fielded, THAAD will network with other systems and sensors to provide the layered missile defense capability required for the future. The program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

"We're in the marketing phase," Shirley Grey-Lewis, THAAD business development director at Lockheed Martin, said. "I see international sales taking place only after the delivery of the first THAAD unit. But I wouldn't refuse [a sale now]."

In May 2008, industry sources said the UAE was negotiating with Lockheed Martin for a THAAD system. The sources said an agreement in principle was expected within months.

Lockheed Martin executives said they were discussing the sale of THAAD to several GCC states. The executives said several of the states, particularly, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, regarded THAAD as a complement to their Patriot missile and air defense systems.

"Any country that has PAC [Patriot] would be interested in THAAD," Ms. Grey-Lewis said.

The executives said Israel has also been discussing procurement of THAAD. They said THAAD has been demonstrated to be compatible to both the U.S.-origin PAC-3 and the Israeli Arrow-2 missile defense system.

In a briefing at the Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris, Lockheed Martin said THAAD has completed a series of tests against unitary Scud-class missile targets. In 2008, the company would test THAAD against missiles with separating warheads.

"The system is operating exactly as it was designed to operate," Ms. Grey-Lewis said.

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