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Emirates invests heavily in arms industry

The Baynunah-class vessels, with waterjet propulsion and designed for multiple missions, represent "the most modern and sophisticated warship ever produced in any of the GCC countries," says ADSB Vice President William Stewart.

US likely to help Taiwan upgrade F-16s: premier
Taipei (AFP) March 29, 2011 - Taiwan Premier Wu Den-yih confirmed Tuesday that the United States is likely to help the island upgrade its F-16 A/B fighters as it is reluctant to arm Taipei with more advanced jets. Taiwan has been pressing for the more powerful F-16 C/Ds, saying it badly needs the weaponry as a bargaining chip against its former bitter rival China. But the fate of a proposed arms deal remains uncertain, Wu said, amid speculation that it could jeopardise Washington's ties with Beijing.

"My understanding is that Washington does not say 'yes' or 'no'. The deal is still under Washington's evaluation," Wu said during a press conference in Taipei. Wu said that "upgrading the F-16A/Bs is the more likely direction". The US Congress in 1979 passed the Taiwan Relations Act requiring the United States to provide the island with defensive weapons. A sale of F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan would be certain to ignite the anger of Beijing, which reacted furiously when the Barack Obama administration in January 2010 announced a 6.4-billion-dollar arms package for the self-governing island.

The package included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, and equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet, but no submarines or new fighter jets. A furious Beijing suspended military exchanges with Washington in response. The backbone of Taiwan's air force consists of some 60 ageing F-5s, 126 Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs), 146 US-made F-16A/Bs and 56 French-made Mirage 2000-5s. Ties with China have improved markedly since Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008, but China still refuses to renounce the possibility of using force should the island declare independence.
by Staff Writers
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UPI) Mar 28, 2011
Raytheon is expected to establish local manufacturing plants when it upgrades the United Arab Emirates' Patriot missile systems, boosting a burgeoning defense and aerospace industry that's becoming the most advanced in the Arab world.

Abu Dhabi, the richest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, spearheads the nascent defense industry emerging in the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

Abu Dhabi signed defense contracts worth $1.8 billion in February as part of its drive to diversify its economy, which is primarily oil exports, principally from its own fields.

The growing confrontation between Iran and the United States and its Persian Gulf allies and the massive arms drive this has engendered in the regional states, primarily Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, has given impetus to Abu Dhabi's drive to develop its own defense industry.

"Heightened threat perception around the Arab gulf states from Iran is the main driver for the increase in defense spending, although there's also a threat from terrorism," said Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.

These days, the emirate is lining up joint ventures with defense industry companies like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co., all of the United States, and BAE Systems, the largest defense contractor in Europe.

The focus increasingly is on aerospace and aircraft technologies, with thousands of new jobs expected to be generated in this rapidly expanding sector.

The emirate even has ambitions of getting in on the space race. In 2009, Aabar Investments bought a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline.

Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004 as part of British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group, plans to provide suborbital flights for paying passengers and eventually orbital space flights as well.

Aabar secured the rights to launch space flights from Abu Dhabi for tourists as well as scientific research and has announced plans to build a spaceport in the emirate.

Abu Dhabi is also building satellites. Its first, Yahsat 1A, a telecommunications craft, is expected to be launched soon atop an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guyana.

A second launch is expected this year by the Al-Yah Satellite Communications Co. a subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Co., a government-owned enterprise that's at the forefront of the defense industry drive.

Mubadala subsidiary Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies has a partnership venture with Sikorsky Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, both of the United States, in the Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center.

Abu Dhabi Ship Building, arguably the most advanced defense contractor in the GCC, has built two 420-ton landing craft for the Bahrain navy at the company's $30 million headquarters in the Mussafah industrial zone.

Along with Mubadala, established in 2002 as Abu Dhabi's investment vehicle in sectors as diverse as aerospace, energy, infrastructure and services, ADSB is in the forefront of building an indigenous defense sector.

It was established in 1995 as a joint venture between Newport News Shipbuilding of Virginia -- now owned by the Northrop Grumman Corp. -- and the UAE Offset Group, now owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

Its main contract so far is a 2004 order worth $1 billion to build five of the six planned Baynunah-class corvettes for the emirates' navy with ADSB's strategic partner, Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie of Cherbourg, France.

The Baynunah-class vessels, with waterjet propulsion and designed for multiple missions, represent "the most modern and sophisticated warship ever produced in any of the GCC countries," says ADSB Vice President William Stewart.

The United Arab Emirates has become a military heavyweight in the Persian Gulf region, particularly with the buildup of its air, naval and missile forces in recent years.

BAE Systems of the United Kingdom, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, the leading U.S. defense manufacturers, "have a strong foothold in the regional defense industry and expect to win big contracts," The Middle East Economic Digest reported.

Among other deals, the Emirates is finalizing a $7 billion contract with Lockheed for the Theater High Altitude Air Defense missile system. Abu Dhabi is also discussing the construction of a missile maintenance facility with Mubadala.

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