x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Raytheon looks to enter UAE defence market

The US aerospace company is promoting its Silent Guardian "pain ray" as it partners with national authorities charged with protecting energy assets.

The UAE helped finance the development costs for improving the Patriot missile and its sensing systems.
The UAE helped finance the development costs for improving the Patriot missile and its sensing systems.

The US aerospace and defence giant Raytheon is in discussions to equip the UAE with naval missiles and is promoting a "pain ray" weapon as it seeks to expand into emerging security fields. The company is forging links with the UAE's Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA), which is charged with defending strategic assets such as oil rigs and power stations.

It is also in contact with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which will operate the country's nuclear power stations beginning in 2017. "We have the core that we are famous for, such as integrated air and missile defence and air traffic control, and we have moved aggressively into what we call adjacencies such as homeland security and cyber security," said Kevin Massengill, the regional vice president of Raytheon.

"In the Middle East, it's an area [in which] we are just getting started." Raytheon has been in talks with the CNIA over its "less-lethal" directed energy system, or pain ray, called Silent Guardian, mainly used for crowd dispersal. It can reach targets more than 500 metres away. The company's core business is huge in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia is looking to upgrade its entire fleet of Patriot missiles in a deal that could be worth US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn), said Albert Del Checcolo, the director of Patriot missile programmes at Raytheon Integrated Defence Systems.

In the UAE, it signed deals worth up to $3.8bn in December 2008 to supply its Patriot defensive missile system. The last contract for a new Patriot missile system was to Greece in 1999. After that, the entire Patriot production line and global supply chain has been devoted to work on upgrades. The UAE helped finance some of the development costs for improvements to the missile and sensing systems, Mr Del Checcolo said.

Some of these funds could be recouped now that Taiwan has joined the programme. "With Taiwan coming in there will be a recoupment for the UAE," he said. Raytheon is also a major partner in the THAAD missile defence system that the UAE is interested in. That deal would be worth up to $7bn in total, or up to $1.5bn for Raytheon. The UAE has also expressed interest in smaller and shorter-range missile systems, and surface-launched, medium-range air-to-air missiles.

But as emerging economies spend billions on new infrastructure, they are increasingly investing in security systems for these assets. In the UAE, the industry's big emerging player is the CNIA. It oversees more than 26 strategic assets in Abu Dhabi and is expected to take on a larger federal mandate across the seven emirates in the coming years. Last year the CNIA agreed to buy 34 fast interceptor vessels from Abu Dhabi Ship Building in a deal worth Dh460 million, and Mr Massengill said Raytheon was in talks to provide missile systems for these vessels.

Raytheon is also involved in a maintenance facility for the UAE's Patriot missiles, due to begin arriving in mid-2012. A local facility would eliminate the time and expense for missiles to be shipped to the US for maintenance work. Raytheon is in discussions with Lockheed Martin, another supplier for the Patriot system, and the local firm Global Aerospace Logistics (GAL) to create the venture, to be located at an Abu Dhabi air base and overseen by the Armed Forces' General Headquarters.

A similar plan is being discussed between Raytheon and Abu Dhabi Ship Building to create a local maintenance facility for the UAE Navy's missiles. igale@thenational.ae