Pentagon confirms Saudi $1 billion payment for THAAD missile system

The total deal will cost upwards of $15bn

FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency.  U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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TERMINAL HIGH ALTITUDE AREA DEFENCE (THAAD)

What is THAAD?

It is considered to be the US's most superior missile defence system.

Production:

It was created in 2008.

Speed:

THAAD missiles can travel at over Mach 8, so fast that it is hypersonic.

Abilities:

THAAD is designed to take out  ballistic missiles as they are on their downward trajectory towards their target, otherwise known as the "terminal phase".

Purpose:

To protect high-value strategic sites, such as airfields or population centres.

Range:

THAAD can target projectiles inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere, at an altitude of 150 kilometres above the Earth's surface.

Creators:

Lockheed Martin was originally granted the contract to develop the system in 1992. Defence company Raytheon sub-contracts to develop other major parts of the system, such as ground-based radar.

UAE and THAAD:

In 2011, the UAE became the first country outside of the US to buy two THAAD missile defence systems. It then stationed them in 2016, becoming the first Gulf country to do so.

Saudi Arabia is on its way to becoming the second Arab country to use the Terminal High Altitude Air Defence missile system, or Thaad, as the Pentagon confirmed the first $1 billion payment from Riyadh towards the acquisition.

After years of negotiations between Washington and Riyadh, the US Department of Defence confirmed that Lockheed Martin's missile department would fill the order as part of a $110bn arms deal signed by the administration of President Donald Trump.

The payment is the first instalment towards the total Thaad  of $15bn. The Pentagon awarded Lockheed a $946 million payment for the sale.

The package includes installation, testing, key personnel and training.

Talks for acquiring Thaad started during the Obama administration in 2011 but concluded under President Mr Trump last year.

The letters formalising the terms of buying 44 Thaad launchers, missiles and related equipment were signed in November, Reuters reported.

The Trump administration has been eager to complete the multibillion-dollar arms sales with Riyadh that the US President announced during his May 2017 visit.

The UAE was the first Arab country to acquire Thaad, a system designed to counter the threat of ballistic missiles, which for Riyadh comes mainly from Iran and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The system is already being used in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan to protect against the North Korean threat.

While Oman announced its plan to buy Thaad systems in 2013, the final sale has not been concluded.

Just hours before the payment from Saudi, the US military announced it has sent Thaad parts to Israel for a first joint exercise of its kind. The parts were sent in early March, the US military Command in Europe said.

Israel has long sought to maintain its military advantage in the Middle East, and has intervened in the past to block or downsize deals between Washington and Arab partners.

Meanwhile, Russia is trying to finalise an S-400 defence missile system deal with Turkey, despite the threat of sanctions from US Congress, and to negotiate a new deal with Qatar.

TERMINAL HIGH ALTITUDE AREA DEFENCE (THAAD)

What is THAAD?

It is considered to be the US's most superior missile defence system.

Production:

It was created in 2008.

Speed:

THAAD missiles can travel at over Mach 8, so fast that it is hypersonic.

Abilities:

THAAD is designed to take out  ballistic missiles as they are on their downward trajectory towards their target, otherwise known as the "terminal phase".

Purpose:

To protect high-value strategic sites, such as airfields or population centres.

Range:

THAAD can target projectiles inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere, at an altitude of 150 kilometres above the Earth's surface.

Creators:

Lockheed Martin was originally granted the contract to develop the system in 1992. Defence company Raytheon sub-contracts to develop other major parts of the system, such as ground-based radar.

UAE and THAAD:

In 2011, the UAE became the first country outside of the US to buy two THAAD missile defence systems. It then stationed them in 2016, becoming the first Gulf country to do so.

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