x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Raytheon targets region for defence sales

The US company plans to offer missile systems, cybersecurity and data systems to GCC countries as they build new capability.

Kevin Massengill of Raytheon.
Kevin Massengill of Raytheon.

Raytheon, the US aerospace and defence giant, aims to take advantage of opportunities in the Middle East as the UAE and other Gulf states build capabilities for cyber-security, missile defence and command and control data systems.

The company believes it has an opportunity to upgrade or replace the UAE's battery of Hawk defensive missiles and is optimistic about providing systems or missiles on many of the Gulf's naval fleets, said Kevin Massengill, the Raytheon vice president and regional executive for the MENA region.

Mr Massengill said modern militaries were tasked with processing and analysing enormous amounts of data from various sources, including radar and unmanned systems.

The data involved was so extensive, he said, it was measured in "petabytes". A single petabyte contains information so dense that if it was played on an iPod as a song it would last for 32 years.

"The question is, how do you move that data at effectively the speed of light and then display that data on dashboard that is intelligible for decision makers?" Mr Massengill said in a technology demonstration on Thursday at the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training in Abu Dhabi, the commercial arm for the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

Such command and control systems are being evaluated by the region's navies and air forces, including an air battle management initiative in the UAE that has drawn the interest of the world's largest aerospace firms.

Raytheon is also hoping to provide systems that not only transmit data but also protect them with cyber-security products.

Mr Massengill said the cyber-attack on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant in September illustrated the vulnerabilities of some national critical facilities. "This is an area of real interest for the UAE Government and for us," he said.

In 2008, Raytheon signed a deal with the UAE worth up to US$3.8 billion (Dh13.95bn) for the Patriot missile defence shield, with the first deliveries expected in mid-2012. The contract was a major coup for the US company, representing its first new order for the missiles since 1999.

The agreement has created a host of follow-on partnerships and opportunities that mean Raytheon becomes a key educational and industrial partner to the UAE's, and in particular Abu Dhabi's, development plans.

It is working with HCT to develop science curriculums and generate interest in aerospace engineering in the UAE and is likely to create new industrial ventures in the UAE to satisfy offset requirements.

It has formed partnerships with the UAE-based Global Aerospace Logistics (GAL) and Lockheed Martin, which also makes Patriot missiles, for a facility to maintain the missiles in-country.

Lockheed and Raytheon also hope to sell the UAE a $7bn upper-atmosphere missile defence system called THAAD next year, Lockheed officials say.

The UAE's existing missile defence programme, composed of Hawk missiles supplied by Raytheon in the late 1980s, could be upgraded or replaced with surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, called SLAMRAAM.

Another area of growth is expected to be in Raytheon's naval unit, with opportunities in further sales of its torpedoes, close-in weapons systems and command and control systems, Mr Massengill said.

"We are in constant discussions with the region's navies, coastguards, critical infrastructure folks," he said. The company is in a good position to equip the region with battle-management systems, as well as its suite of offensive and defensive weapons "on almost everything that floats", he said.

igale@thenational.ae