Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced the expansion of Patriot missile defense capabilities in the Persian Gulf. The advantages to the U.S. and allies are obvious. A strong missile defense system in the Gulf would serve to protect and defend nations threatened by Iran and send a message that the U.S. and its allies are serious about stopping the rogue state.
At the time, missile defense experts expressed concern that the system would defend against short-range missiles, not the long-range missiles Iran seeks to build.
In September, sources reported that the U.S. intended to sell Saudi Arabia fighter aircraft and defense weapons worth billions. This week, a spokesman from U.S. defense contractor Raytheon confirmed that those plans are underway. An excerpt:
“The United States said last month Saudi Arabia wants to spend as much as $60 billion on aircraft, helicopters and other arms, kicking off a spending spree in the Gulf anticipating an escalation of the West’s row with Iran over its nuclear plans.
“Diplomats expect smaller Arab states in the world’s top oil producing region to follow with arms orders as they worry they might become targets for strikes. Kuwait was also interested in an upgrade of Patriots, while talks were also going on with Qatar, Culligan told reporters late on Saturday, declining to provide a price tag.
“Raytheon said it was in talks for another arms deal in the United Arab Emirates.
The firm was also hoping to sign homeland security and cyber security deals with Saudi Arabia, he added. ‘We’re working on proposals,’ he said.”