WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has approved a $270.4 million sale to the United Arab Emirates that includes more than 300 Sidewinder missiles, and a $197 million upgrade of Qatar’s air operations center. Raytheon will be the prime contractor for each.
The proposed sale to Qatar, which Congress must approve, comes amid a standoff between Doha and a Saudi-led, four-nation alliance. Qatar is home to Al Udeid Air Base, which houses 10,000 U.S. personnel and serves as a crucial overseas American base.
The State Department announced Thursday it had notified Congress of the two sales. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing the tiny but super-rich Gulf state of supporting militant groups and cozying up to Shiite, non-Arab Iran — charges Doha denies.
The State Department announcement called Qatar, “a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced in February he would lift his eight-month hold on U.S. arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council member states, which he levied to pressure a resolution with Qatar. At the time, he lamented the crisis between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar was no closer to a resolution.
According to the State department announcement, the U.S. upgrade of the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s air operations center would include:
- One multifunctional information distribution system low-volume terminal.
- GPS selective availability anti-spoofing module chips.
- Simple key loaders.
- High-assurance internet protocol encryptors.
- Ground-support system components for Link 16.
- Infrastructure construction, integration, installation and sustainment services.
- Cybersecurity services.
- Technical and support facilities.
- Communications security support.
The prime contractor, Raytheon, of Waltham, Massachusetts, is expected to assign 15 contractor representatives to Qatar, beside five government representatives.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region,” the State Department’s statement reads. “The proposed sale will help strengthen Qatar’s capability to counter current and future threats in the region and reduce dependence on U.S. forces.”
The proposed U.S. sale to the UAE Air Force includes:
- 300 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II missiles.
- 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Captive Air Training Missiles.
- 30 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical guidance units.
- 15 AIM-9X-2 CATM guidance units.
- Containers, spares, support equipment and missile support.
- U.S. government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support.
The prime contractor would be Raytheon Missile Systems Company, of Tuscon, Arizona.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the announcement reads. “The UAE will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense.”
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.