Saturday, November 12, 2011

UAE to Build Integrated Air Ops Center in 2012

DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to build an integrated air operations center next year as part of a layered ballistic missile defense system, the deputy commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense said Nov. 12.
The air operations center would control air defense and missile assets, as part of preparations for an "emerging missile threat," Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Naser Al Alawi told an air chiefs conference organized by conference and consulting company Inegma, and held ahead of the Dubai Airshow's Nov. 13 opening.
The air operations center would be a "force multiplier," Al Alawi said.
A layered missile defense would offer "upper and lower" level protection, he said.
The UAE has orders for interceptors at the upper level, namely the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) missiles, respectively, from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
On the new air operations center, Lockheed Martin and ThalesRaytheonSystems are competing to win a contract, reported to be worth $1 billion, for delivering the integrated air and missile defense system, which is seen as a defense against Iranian threats.
A system that included interceptors against lower level threats and which might afford protection against saturation attacks appeared to open up opportunities for European missile maker MBDA.
"A versatility of interception is the right answer to multi-threat and saturation attacks," MBDA chief executive Antoine Bouvier said on the sidelines of the conference. "A segmentation of interception is not."
A multi-threat environment consists of attacks from aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, with a possible mass launch of the latter weapon.
"Is an upper level only the right answer to a globalized threat?" Bouvier asked.
An upgraded version of MBDA's Aster missile, the NT1 due to be developed by 2015, could help counter the lower level threats and saturation missile attacks, he said.
Al Alawi's remarks appeared to confirm a move by the UAE toward a greater layered approach in its air and missile defense system, Bouvier said.
The UAE has reportedly cut a 2008 planned purchase to 96 THAAD missiles from 144, two AN/TPY-2 radars from four, and two batteries from three. That procurement also included six communications units and nine launchers. If all options had been exercised, the deal would have been worth $6.95 billion.
The UAE also signed up for the PAC-3 missile in a deal valued at over $1.8 billion over the life of the program.

Report Says UAE Will Receive 'Bunker Busters'

WASHINGTON - The United States has plans to provide thousands of advanced "bunker-busting" bombs to the United Arab Emirates as part of efforts to contain Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 11.
The advanced munitions are designed to demolish bunkers, tunnels and other thickly reinforced targets, making them well-suited for a potential strike on Iran's underground nuclear facilities, the newspaper said.
The proposed package to the UAE - said to include up to 3,900 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMS), and other weapons - is to be formally presented to Congress "in the coming days," the Journal said.
In recent years, President Obama's administration has moved to shore up Arab Gulf countries with major arms deals, part of a policy of strengthening regional allies to ramp up pressure on Tehran.
The long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear program flared this week when the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had "credible" evidence that Iran was trying to build nuclear warheads for its medium-range missiles.
Iran denies it is seeking atomic weapons, insisting that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
The United States and Israel have in turn warned that all options are on the table for dealing with the issue, including military action.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Nov. 10 warned of the risks from any military strike on Iran, saying it could have a "serious impact" on the region.
Panetta added that a military strike on suspected Iranian nuclear sites would only delay Tehran's nuclear program for about three years.
The United Nations has slapped four rounds of sanctions on Iran since 2006, and the United States and European Union have imposed their own restrictions.
Israel has signaled it may stage air strikes against Iran's nuclear sites, and Tehran has threatened to hit back against any attack or even the threat of military action.