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Emirates boost U.S. arms purchases

U.S. wins defense boost in India
New Delhi (UPI) Nov 11, 2010 - U.S. President Barack Obama's decision that Washington will back India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council signals a change in Indo-American defense and strategic ties. Analysts suggest that the decision could give U.S. companies vying for multimillion-dollar defense contracts in India a strong boost. Among the companies: Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are competing for F-16 and F-18 deals, respectively. During his trip to India, Obama announced a relaxation in export controls for India in an attempt to reduce barriers on commercial companies that could potentially have military applications. Obama announced the U.S. support for India's council bid during an address to the Parliament earlier this week.

"In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member," Obama told India's Parliament. U.S. companies are also vying for a $10 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft. Indian military officials have indicated that the final pick would stem from a political decision. In recent years India has won access to atomic fuels and technology after an accord clinched with President George W. Bush resulted in the 45-member Nuclear Supplier Group lifting a three-decade ban on exports. Obama's decision to relax exports control marked "an incremental advancement in U.S. and India relations," said S. Chandrasekaran, director of the South Asia Analysis Group, a policy-research organization in India. "This is good news for India in that it will give them better access to more sophisticated technology."

India intends to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012. In recent months, also, it inducted a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile into its armed forces, unveiling a defense spending budget spiked by 24 percent since last year. The moves have Pakistan fretting, with leading officials billing India's drive a "massive militarization." Bent on bolstering its military might, India has also boosted its defense ties with Russia. In a related agreement, officials in Moscow say they are waiting for clearance from New Delhi to supply the country with 22 attack helicopters and 15 heavy lift helicopters. During Obama's visit six bilateral agreements and four memorandums of understanding were signed, including one related to the creation of a global center for nuclear energy partnership. As Asia's third biggest economy, India offers a rapidly growing market for American companies, including the Arkansas retailer Wal-Mart Stores and the Connecticut's GE, the world biggest maker of jet engines, power plant turbines and locomotives.
by Staff Writers
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UPI) Nov 12, 2010
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to sell the United Arab Emirates 60 Boeing AH-64D Apache strike helicopters worth $5 billion -- even as Washington turns up the heat on the Persian Gulf state to curb trade with Iran.

The Defense Department said Monday it had notified the U.S. Congress last week of the proposed sale. Lawmakers have 30 days to approve or reject the sale, although no significant opposition is expected.

The proposed sale is part of a massive arms package for the Arab states of the gulf valued at $122 billion over the next decade. It is intended to beef up their military capabilities to counter Iran, with a new focus on their offensive capabilities.

"The volume of arms purchases by the United Arab Emirates," a federation of seven emirates in the southern gulf, "has increased significantly over the past 10 years and is likely to remain a major arms buyer in the coming years," said the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors global arms sales.

The emirates' air force is its most potent military component, with 155 combat aircraft. Saudi Arabia, which has the largest air force in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council alliance, has 280.

Thirty AH-64D Apaches were delivered to the emirates in 2008-09. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees U.S. foreign arms sales, said the emirates sought 30 new combat helicopters -- 30 AH-64D Block II craft remanufactured to Block III configuration, and 30 Block III variants.

These would be accompanied by spare engines, radars and sensor systems. Lockheed Martin would deliver 100 Army Tactical Missile Systems and 60 low-cost, reduced-range practice rockets under a $140 million contract.

The emirates are also expected to take delivery of four Patriot MIM-104 PAC-3 air-defense missile batteries built by Raytheon, 60 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk armed transport helicopters and 12 Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 and six Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

France will be providing three A-330 MRTT tanker/transport aircraft built by Airbus Industries and six Baynunah-class corvettes designed by France's Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie. The first corvette, built at CMN's yard, is undergoing sea trials. The other five will be constructed by Abu Dhabi Ship Building.

Russia is due to deliver up to 50 Pantsir S1 short-range air-defense missile systems, with Italy providing two Falaj-2 corvettes and one Abu Dhabi-class frigate.

The emirates plan to acquire two other Falaj-class vessels and another Abu Dhabi-class frigate.

The emirates also seek three Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missiles systems built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, a deal worth up to $7 billion and cleared by Congress in September.

The air force is also seeking 16 twin-engine Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy lift transport helicopters from the United States.

They plan to acquire 60 combat aircraft from the United States or France, 48 M-346 advanced trainer aircraft from Italy's Alenia Aermacchi, plus three early warning aircraft, for which several countries are bidding.

Meantime, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing the emirates, particularly its banks and companies, to tighten the economic squeeze on Iran under sanctions imposed by the United Nations in June.

It isn't clear whether U.S. efforts to persuade the emirates, in particular Dubai, its financial hub, to crack down on sanctions busters are linked to the emirates' military procurement program.

But the Americans say there's a heavy flow of dual-use equipment, which can be used for military purposes as well as civilian, being smuggled into Iran through Dubai in spite of the sanctions, imposed because Tehran refuses to abandon its alleged nuclear arms program.

"Dubai has become a much more difficult place to do business with Iran, as credit lines from banks have dried up," the Financial Times reports."But the United States is keeping up the pressure."

The emirates' trade with Iran was estimated at $12 billion in 2009 but that's expected to nosedive this year as banks withdraw credit lines.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi, the emirates' economic powerhouse and which controls arms procurement, has traditionally taken a tougher line on Iran than the more freewheeling Dubai, which has long-standing banking, trade and smuggling links with Iran across the Persian Gulf.

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