The U.S. Defense Department yesterday said it intended to authorize the sale of up to 209 latest-generation Patriot missile interceptors to Kuwait, Reuters reported .
Manufactured by Raytheon Co., MIM-104E Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-T interceptors are capable of bringing down various aircraft and projectiles, including nonstrategic ballistic missiles armed with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.
“Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement to Congress.
The arrangement is another example of Washington’s effort to counter the strength of Iran’s armed forces “and prepare for the possibility Iran might acquire a nuclear capability,” Congressional Research Service analyst Kenneth Katzman said (see GSN, Feb. 1).
The United States has augmented missile defenses around the Middle East, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It has also supported Israeli antimissile efforts.
The Pentagon as of January had fielded eight Patriot batteries in four Gulf states, though then-Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus did not say where the systems were specifically located.
The Defense Department said the proposed interceptor sale, worth as much as $900 million, would not affect the Middle East’s overall security environment.
“The sale would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the notice states.
Lawmakers have 30 days from the date the notice was issued to review the deal before it can be finalized.