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UAE Embarks on Sophisticated Anti-missile Programme

T Ramavarman
Filed on December 17, 2008

ABU DHABI - UAE has embarked on a programme to equip itself with a sophisticated air defence structure in view of the widespread reports of proliferation of ballistic missiles and other modern systems capable of fast delivery of weapons with severe destructive capabilities, in the region.

Talking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Middle East Missile and Air Defence (MEMAD) symposium here on Monday, the former Commander of UAE Air Force and Air Defence Major General (Retd.) Khaled Abdulla Al Bu-Ainnain said this upgradation of air defence system marked the last phase of the modernisation of the entire military capabilities of the UAE.

Asked whether the anti-missile programme was launched in the wake of the reported threats from Iran, he said: “I want to make it clear that UAE was modernising its air defence capabilities not to target any country. We want to provide the best possible security to our people, resources, land, water and air space. The military or political strategy of UAE has never been to attack any country. There are several possible threats in the region.

“There are also reports of several countries adopting modern defence capabilities including advanced missile systems in our neighbourhood and outside. So we have to upgrade our defence capabilities also to provide effective security to our country.”

Replying to questions on the reported decision of the US Congress approving the sale of sophisticated anti-missile system to UAE, the former UAE Air Force Commander said teams from both the countries would now negotiate on the finer aspects of the deal including the contracting part.

“It will take some more time before the deal is finalised. The process had begun about five six years back. UAE wants to go very cautiously on selecting the best anti-missile system, because once you install it will remain with you for about 20 years. Only the US and Russia have such sophisticated and long range anti-missile system.”

The selection of the anti-missile system will also be linked to issues like development of a communication network, integration of the new system into the existing defence infrastructure and training the personnel to use them.

Asked how many anti-missile systems would be deployed in UAE, he said this has to be worked out through the careful studies of the professional teams.

Khaled Abdulla Al Bu Ainnain, who is also the president of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, (INEGMA) however, cautioned that deployment of anti-missile system could only be one component of the overall air defence system.

A modern air defence system will have two wings, one the ground level structure which will destroy the enemy missiles before they enter the country’s air space and the other is the actual airplanes which would seek to destroy the air-borne enemy threats after they penetrate into the country.

Replying to questions he said he did not perceive the emergence of a race among the Gulf neighbours in terms of conventional arms or weapons of mass destruction in the near future.

ramavarman@khaleejtimes.com


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