LM Expects Growth in Gulf Sales of Long-Range Radars, BMD
By WENDELL MINNICK, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates
Lockheed Martin sees growth potential for long-range radars in the Gulf region, said Matthew McNeil, senior manager for air and missile defense at Lockheed Martin, Missiles and Fire Control.
Moreover, it has the backing of U.S. Central Command, which is encouraging regional leaders to buy.
Lockheed is pushing Gulf nations to replace their PAC-2 Patriot anti-missile missile and Hawks with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Program (THAAD) and PAC-3 Patriots.
UAE officials have been talking with Lockheed about buying those systems and upgrading Hawks, Lockheed officials said.
Flight testing of THAAD began in November 2005, with five tests completed — the last one in January with a “successful high-endo intercept of unitary target,” said Shirley Gray-Lewis, business development director for THAAD, Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “Upcoming flight tests will include missile only low-endo, mid-endo intercept of unitary target, and exo intercept of unitary targets.”
She said THAAD should be available internationally in 2009 or 2010 under the Foreign Military Sales program, after the U.S. Missile Defense Agency fields the system.
“THAAD appears to be custom-made for this region,” Gray-Lewis said. “It makes sense to integrate THAAD with PAC-3; THAAD will provide excellent defense for the PAC-3. They will work together. THAAD is only looking for ballistic missile threats, not air breathing targets,”
THAAD was initiated in the late 1980s as a joint U.S.-Israeli program to help Israel deal with the threat of Katyusha rockets fired at its northern settlements by Lebanese and Palestinians guerrillas in south Lebanon.
The program gained more importance in 2006 after thousands of rockets fired by Hezbollah guerrillas in south Lebanon managed to penetrate Israeli air defenses and inflict heavy damage in Israeli northern towns and settlements.
Lockheed long-range radars are selling better than ever in the region.
Lockheed’s AN/FPS-117 Long Range Solid-State 3D Surveillance Radar systems are already fielded with Kuwait, Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces. Bahrain has recently received its initial LM AN/ TPS-59 Tactical Missile Defense (TMD) radar with theater ballistic missile capability.
Two different radars, the TPS-59 and a smaller version of the 59, dubbed M-34, have been sold to Egypt. “They have tactical ballistic missile warning and cueing capability,” said Steve Bruce, vice president, Lockheed Martin Radar Systems business development.
Upgrades of older radars are also in the works.
“We are currently working with several customers in the region. We are upgrading their FPS-117 radars,” he said.
Pakistan has ordered six AN/TPS-77 Tactical Transportable Radars for $89 million under the FMS program, and they are currently undergoing testing.
“They have successfully passed the FAT [First Article Test] for system 1 in November and system 2 on 14 February. Installation of radars in Pakistan is scheduled for early summer 2007. Currently, Lockheed is hosting 25 Pakistan Air Force personnel in Syracuse for intensive radar training,” Bruce said.