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Oman To Pay Estimated $2.1 Billion For Patriot Missiles

May 26, 2013
US Patriot Missile System

Via Raytheon

On Tuesday, May 21, no less than Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Oman to cement ties with the tranquil Gulf nation.

The overt purpose of his visit was to preside over an important missile deal worth $2.1 billion for Raytheon’s latest Patriot missile system as well as Lockheed Martin’s vaunted new Terminal High-Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD).

Arriving by plane in the capital, Muscat, Secretary Kerry was fresh from a previous trip to Jordan where he endorsed a multi-nation peace process that would end the Syrian civil war.

The two days Kerry spent in Oman, however, was more far-reaching than his earlier stop. As reported in numerous news outlets, at the top of his agenda was the kingdom’s latest defense acquisitions.

Oman, which is ruled by the absolutist Al Said dynasty, is arguably the most stable country in the Persian Gulf. Its leader Sultan Qaboos al Said enjoys a bustling economy that, on paper at least, is on its way to developing beyond oil dependence. Although his reign is secured by stringent laws and a pliant military, credible domestic opposition against him is nonexistent.

Oman has remarkably parlayed the tensions between its neighbors with a foreign policy that appeases the West and Saudi Arabia without antagonizing Iran, which controls the other half of the Persian Gulf’s narrow opening.

Indeed, because of its location, Oman is a crucial piece in the Middle Eastern chess game against its Shiite neighbor across the water. Several years ago, the US made it clear that it would establish a missile defense shield against Iran in the advent of a future war.

The sale of advanced Patriot PAC-3 batteries armed with missiles that can intercept long range targets and eliminate them with direct hits is just the latest in several expensive deals for the coastal kingdom.

In February, for example, Oman placed orders for brand new F-16s to upgrade its air force. It came exactly two years after an initial batch of 12 F-16s were ordered to replace the air force’s ageing fighters.

Qatar and Kuwait are the next recipients of the PAC-3. The former will even have an advance AN/TPY 2 X-Band radar installed at a major US airbase to detect incoming ballistic missiles from Iran.

The PAC-3 sale to Muscat isn’t the first time Raytheon has done business in Oman either. Last month its German subsidiary provided electronics for naval patrol vessels.