Thursday, 1 September 2011

Saudi Arabia has placed a $1.7 billion contract with Raytheon Company to upgrade Patriot Air and Missile Defense System

Saudi Arabia has placed a $1.7 billion direct commercial sales contract with Raytheon Company to upgrade the Kingdom’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense System to the latest Configuration-3. The award includes ground-system hardware, a full training package and support equipment upgrades.

The announcement came Tuesday at the Paris Air Show where military and commercial deals are done for both military and civilian aircraft and technology.

“Raytheon is honored to provide the most technologically advanced air and missile defense system in the world to Saudi Arabia,” said Tom Kennedy, president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). “We are pleased that, with this contract, they have shown further confidence in Raytheon and the superior air and missile defense capabilities of the Patriot system.”

Raytheon first supplied the combat-proven Patriot system to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s to protect the nation’s critical assets. Subject to customary US regulatory approvals, work under this contract will be performed by Raytheon at the Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, Massachusetts, and in Saudi Arabia. The newly redesigned Patriot protects against a full range of advanced threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs.

The bi-annual Paris Air Show opened on Monday at Le Bourget with two industry giants Boeing and Airbus announcing a combined $20 billion of orders. Airbus, owned by European high-tech giant EADS, with its Asian orders for its new fuel-efficient A320neo accounted for 142 firm orders worth $15.1 billion.

Boeing started well, selling 22 planes for $3.435 billion with US leasing firms ALC and GECAS updating their fleets and the fast-growing Gulf carriers Qatar and Saudi Arabian Airlines in the mix.

Jim Albaugh, chief of Boeing’s commercial aircraft operations, said the market was coming back strongly and observed that smaller firms from emerging countries such as China and Brazil were starting to impact on the market.

“Traffic is coming back in very strong fashion,” Albaugh told a briefing, adding that the days of the Airbus-Boeing “duopoly” are over.

The market is a glittering prize for the big manufacturers. Last week Boeing said that 33,500 planes worth $4 trillion would be needed over the next 20 years. Embraer of Brazil, which has rocketed to be the world’s third-largest plane maker with over 1,000 orders in just seven years of existence, netted $1.7 billion of orders of its 70-120 seat regional jets.

Commercial aviation seems to be dominating the show with cutbacks in spending by governments limiting purchases. This was ironically not entirely negative news for Raytheon, the missile and radar giant.

VP and Regional Executive for MENA Kevin Messengill said that cutbacks in the purchase in new platforms for Raytheon’s missile and sensor technology created a niche market.

“It is far less expensive to upgrade an aircraft’s radar and missile systems or other systems than to replace the entire platform,” he said.

He felt that this would provide a sound revenue stream during the downturn in the global economy and that Raytheon was precisely placed to capitalize on the expected demand. The placement of the Saudi Arabian order reinforced his optimistic view.

There was a distinct increase of remote controlled surveillance aircraft and the associated radar and computer technology for surveillance and remote strikes.

The day of the drones approaches as the balance of warfare changes from massive set pieces between superpowers to the asymmetric nature of insurgent threat characterized by small mobile units or even individuals. Counter-insurgency by data gathering, analysis and projection to forward fighting units seems to be very much on the rise.

At the other extreme, the threat of attack by Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) may have receded somewhat but remains a distinct possibility as an increasing number of nations develop both space and nuclear programs.

Tuesday should have seen the flight of the technological star attraction of the show, the solar powered Solar Impulse that recently circumnavigated the globe powered entirely from solar energy. The 10 a.m. flight was canceled to the disappointment of enthusiastic visitors on a sunless morning under gray clouds.

While Impulse was earthbound, other green pleasures were however on hand. Italian aircraft interior designer Giugiaro Design presented a concept BMW hydrogen powered concept car. An in-line two-seater that uses twin joysticks to steer brought together the best of Italian design and German engineering and drew an admiring crowd of aficionados.

Source:Arab News

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