WASHINGTON - The Pentagon awarded U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. with a $1.96 billion contract Dec. 30 to supply the United Arab Emirates with a missile defense system.
Under the contract, Lockheed will deliver two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or Thaad systems that include radar, interceptors and launchers, according to a Pentagon statement.
The project is part of President Barack Obama's plans to build up a regional defense in the Middle East to counter Iran's growing arsenal of ballistic missiles.
Under the plan, land-based interceptors would be tied in with a detection network on U.S. Navy Aegis-class warships.
UAE is the first country to purchase the expensive Thaad system.
The announcement came amid rising tensions with Iran and a day after the United States confirmed the signing of a $30 billion arms deal to provide another Gulf ally - Saudi Arabia - with 84 new fighter jets.