Dubai, UAE: US satellite-makers Raytheon Corporation and Lockheed Martin have reportedly succeeded in convincing the US administration to ease export rules so they can compete with European firms to sell spy satellites to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Intelligence Online reported, “Raytheon quietly entered the race to win the highly strategic contracts for a new military observation satellite.” This puts it in direct competition with the European aerospace giant European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co., which has been negotiating with the Emirates for two years.
“The negotiations involving the two contenders are being followed closely by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of which are looking to equip themselves with surveillance satellites,” Intelligence Online stated. The winner of the Emirates deal will likely secure similar deals with other Persian Gulf monarchies.
The Obama administration has been steadily building up US forces, primarily naval and air power, the gulf and its environs for several months but it has also been supplementing that by funnelling advanced weapons and electronic systems into the gulf monarchies as well. Raytheon supplies Patriot air-defense missile systems to the Emirates.
Lockheed signed a USD 3.48 billion deal for two batteries of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system on December 25, 2011, including two Raytheon AN/TPY-2 long-range radars and 96 interceptors.
The Emirates had sought four batteries, with 144 interceptors and four radars for USD 6.9 billion but cut that back in 2010.
The deal marked the first foreign sale of THAAD and underlined US efforts to beef up Arab defense capabilities in the gulf as tensions mounted with Iran over its expansionist policies in the region.
The Americans face stiff opposition from Europeans on satellite competition. EADS’ Franco-German aerospace subsidiary, Astrium, and Thales Alenia Space of Cannes, France, owned by Thales Aerospace of France and Finmeccanica of Italy, have an edge.
Astrium built the Emirates’ Yahsat series of communications satellites used by the gulf state’s military forces, with funding from the sovereign fund run by the Mubadala Development Company, based in Abu Dhabi.