UAE wants SAM systems, intercepting at an altitude of 20 km

DUBAI, ($1=3.67 Emirati Dirhams) – The United Arab Emirates’ missile and air defenses currently rely in part on two high-altitude Terminal Defense batteries [THAAD], acquired by the United States and recently awarded a $ 255 million Lockheed-Martin contract to ensure that it is maintained in working condition [MCO]. They complement the American Patriot PAC-3 system, acquired in 2008.

UAE wants SAM systems, intercepting at an altitude of 20 km
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Finally, to intercept missiles operating at lower altitudes, the Emirati forces have 50 Russian systems Pantsir S1 and MIM-23 Hawk medium-range missiles. And they will soon be replaced by “KM-SAM” batteries, also called “Cheolmae” or “Cheongung”, developed in South Korea, learned, citing own source.

In fact, on the sidelines of the Dubai air show, the UAE Ministry of Defense announced, without giving further details, that it intends to order this South Korean defense system for a total of about $ 3.5 billion.

As a reminder, proposed by LIG Nex1 and capable of intercepting targets up to 20 km high, the KM-SAM block II entered service with the South Korean Air Force in November 2020 to replace the MIM.-23 Hawk missiles. This system consists of a mobile multifunction radar developed by Hanwha Systems, a command vehicle, and four launchers, each of which can fire up to 8 missiles. They are designed by the 9M96 model, which equips the Russian S-350E and S-400 systems.

“On the South Korean side, however, we want to be careful. Although the UAE Ministry of Defense’s statement is positive, we still need to see how the negotiations on the details go,” said a DAPA official with the South Korean military program agency. “This purchase will make the United Arab Emirates the number one export customer of Cheolmae-2”.

Separately, a US official told Reuters that the Biden administration was ready to continue selling 50 F-35A aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. A sale that, for the record, was authorized by President Trump.

“We continue to consult with UAE officials to ensure that we have a clear and unambiguous mutual understanding on UAE bonds and actions before, during, and after delivery,” said Mira Reznik, Secretary of State, US Assistant, without further details.

One of the points blocking this sale concerns the involvement of Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei in the deployment of the UAE’s 5G network. “Washington continues to put pressure on Abu Dhabi over specific commitments on how and where the system will be operated once it is delivered, some of which could be seen by the United Arab Emirates as an attack on their sovereignty,” Danny Sebraith, Director of the United Arab Emirates Business Council said.


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