7 October 2017
By Justice Nwafor
The United States of America, U.S.A, has agreed to sell a missile defence system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, THAAD, worth 15 billion dollars to Saudi Arabia, Al-Jazeera reports.
The sale, however, is subject to the approval of U.S. Congress. But if Congress does not object to it within 30 days, it would go on.
This is coming barely 48 hours after the Gulf country agreed to buy an S-400 missile systems from Russia during the historic visit of the country’s King to Russia.
On Friday, Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation agency said “this sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats.”
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, THAAD, which has already been supplied to Saudi Arabia’s neighbours Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is one of the most capable anti-missile batteries in the US arsenal and comes equipped with an advanced radar system.
It was learnt Saudi Arabia had also asked to buy 44 THAAD launchers and 360 missiles, as well as fire control stations and radars.
Al-Jazeera reports that THAAD’s recent deployment by the US military in South Korea to protect against a possible North Korean attack drew protests from Beijing, who feared its sensors would be able to penetrate into Chinese airspace and upset the balance of power.
But the state department said it would advise Congress that, in Saudi hands, the system would act to stabilise the situation in the Gulf and help defend US forces in the region and their allies.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” it said.
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Co is the prime contractor for the THAAD system, with defence contractor Raytheon Co playing an important role in its deployment.