The U.S. Defense Department has awarded a rich military contract to Lockheed Martin, agreeing to pay more than $3.9 billion for a missile defense system. The deal calls for a maximum of 110 high-altitude interceptor missiles, some of which would go to the United Arab Emirates.
The system, called THAAD for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is a project of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Ala. It would be used to track hostile missiles, with the goal of destroying them at altitudes that extend beyond the Earth's atmosphere. It can use data from the Navy's Aegis guided missile cruisers, satellites or other sources.
The UAE requested 48 THAAD missiles last November, along with nine launchers, spare parts and training data, according to a news release by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. At the time, the deal was valued at $1.135 billion.
The official price tag for the contract is $3,920,739,507, according to the Pentagon. "Deliveries will begin in fiscal year 2015 and complete in fiscal year 2019," the Defense Department says.
Lockheed Martin says that in 12 field tests conducted last autumn, the system had a perfect success rate of 10-for-10 in each round of testing. According to the company's data, it reported net sales of $47.2 billion in 2012.
"We continue to see strong interest from around the globe for the unique capabilities THAAD can provide," said Mathew Joyce, vice president and program manager for THAAD at Lockheed Martin, in a press release announcing the deal.