x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Region to review missile defence

Generals, defence experts and government representatives from the GCC and beyond will attend two-day symposium in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // The threat of missile proliferation is spreading to the Arabian Gulf, according to a regional military analyst who is organising a symposium on Middle East missile and air defence in Abu Dhabi this month. Several former armed forces generals will be among speakers at the Middle East Missile and Air Defence Symposium, which will also be attended by senior government representatives, defence experts and diplomats from the GCC and further abroad.

"This takes place at a time when the threat of ballistic and cruise missile proliferation is widening to cover various parts of the Middle East, especially the Arabian Gulf," said Riad Kahwaji, the founder and director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, which is organising the event. "Presentations and discussions will help regional militaries establish a better understanding of the form of the threat and ways to deal with it."

The symposium will be held on Dec 14 and 15 at the Armed Forces Officers' Club, under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The keynote speaker is Mary Beth Long, the US assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs. Sessions and workshops include: early warning platforms, technologies, tactics and strategies; active defence against cruise and ballistic missiles; pre-empting and preventing cruise and ballistic missile attacks; combating artillery rockets; and passive defence.

US weapons and defence technology manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are among sponsors who will give presentations at the event. Details of the symposium were released a day after an interview by the Armed Forces chief of staff was published, in which Lt Gen Hamad Mohammed Thani al Rumaithi spoke about the nation's security strategy. In his remarks to the Nation Shield, a monthly magazine of the Armed Forces, Gen al Rumaithi said the Armed Forces had worked to enhance their defence capabilities over the years by "upgrading their hardware and training their cadres to deal with the latest weapon systems".

He said this has made the Armed Forces capable of taking part in international peacekeeping and rescue efforts with the UN. The Government is looking at buying advanced missile technology. In December last year, it notified the US Congress it may buy the long-range surface-to-air Patriot missile defence system. The UAE is also considering the longer-range Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, developed by Lockheed Martin, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.