RIYADH, ($1=3.75 Saudi Arabian Riyal) — Saudi Arabia and Lockheed Martin have signed an agreement that allows the Arab kingdom to home-produced some key components of Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] missile system. The news was announced earlier this week when Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries [GAMI] and Lockheed Martin signed the agreement during the already concluded World Defense Show in Riyadh.
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This agreement comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has decided that by 2030, 50% of defense and military technology will be produced in the kingdom. Riyadh’s program is called “Vision 2030”.
Riyadh’s interest in THAAD is not accidental. As well as being protected from short- and medium-range missiles by this system, the kingdom has said it is ready to invest more than $ 28 billion. in American weapon systems. This statement was made in 2017.
Both sides have expressed hope that it will not only usher in even stronger ties between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States but will also significantly increase the ability of Saudis to develop defense technology.
A spokesman for the American company told Al Arabiya that the agreement was a testament to Saudi Arabia’s progress and that the United States believed in the possibility of growing the kingdom’s military-industrial complex. “We look forward to becoming part of the supply chain for key defense systems that the Kingdom is procuring,” Al Arabiya was quoted as saying.
“The readiness to defend the airspace is expected to be significantly increased,” said Ghasem al-Maimani, GAMI’s deputy governor. According to Al Arabiya, the signing of the agreement was a formal formality for the public, as talks between Lockheed Martin and local defense manufacturers began long before that.
High Altitude Area Defense Terminal (THAAD)
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] is an anti-ballistic missile system developed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Entered service in the United States in 2008. From then until today THAAD continues to be produced and sold successfully. In addition to the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are its operators and use it to protect their airspace from medium-range and short-range missiles.
Although the system is many years old, it was only in January this year that it managed to make the first documented interception of a ballistic missile that was launched by the Yemeni Hutus in the UAE.
The THAAD rocket weighs 900 kilograms and is powered by a single-stage Pratt & Whitney solid-fueled engine. The operational distance that can reach and hit a target is 200 km. It can fly at an altitude of up to 150 km, and the maximum speed of the THAAD missile that can be reached is Mach 8 or 10,000 km / h.
The missile has an indium-antimonide imaging infra-red seeker head, and the entire missile system is transported by a transporter erector launcher [TEL], which means a missile vehicle with an integrated prime mover [tractor unit].
THAAD uses AN / TPY-2 Army Navy / Transportable Radar. It operates in the X-band of the electromagnetic spectrum. This enables it to see targets more clearly and distinguish between an actual menace and non-threats, like launch debris. AN / TPY-2 can operate in two modes: forward-based mode and Terminal mode.
In Forward-based mode, the radar detects ballistic missiles after they are launched. In Terminal mode, the radar helps guide interceptors toward a descending missile to defeat the threat.
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