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Lockheed Nears Deal to Supply UAE with More Rocket Launchers

Lockheed Martin Corp. is nearing a deal to supply the United Arab Emirates with more truck-mounted rocket launchers, an official said.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based defense contractor expects to finalize a contract "by the end of the year" to supply the UAE with additional M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Ken Musculus, Lockheed's vice president of tactical missiles, said during a media briefing on Monday at the Association of the United States annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Lockheed has built more than 400 of the rocket launchers, designed to be mounted to five-ton medium-duty tactical vehicles, mostly for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, according to the company. International customers include Singapore, Jordan and the Emirates.

The system is designed to be deployed within 36 hours into a combat zone on a C-130 cargo plane. It can carry a pod of six M31A1 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets or a single MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

The Pentagon has previously notified Congress of sales of the technology to the UAE.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency in 2006 announced the State Department had approved a possible foreign military sale to the country of 20 HIMARS launchers and trucks, along with hundreds of ATACMS and GMLRS pods, missiles and rockets, according to a press release. The agency in 2014 made a similar announcement for 12 more launchers, along with related weapons and equipment, according to another release.

In a foreign military sale, known in military parlance as FMS, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government. Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs, according to the agency’s website.

Lockheed had actually stopped producing the launchers "a few years ago," but interest from the UAE in buying more of the systems and from Poland in possibly installing the technology on domestic vehicles spurred a restarting of the production line, Musculus said. Indeed, the government of Poland is expected to announce a winner of that competition later this month, he said.

"Assuming we're the winner, we'll work very closely with Polish industry to integrate our launcher on their vehicle and, over time, do more of the co-production of that launcher," he said. "This ties in very tightly with the UAE ... there's a lot of common hardware there."

Separately, the company is also working to upgrade its warheads to be in compliance with Pentagon policy, which stems from a U.S. decision to honor an international treaty, to eliminate cluster munitions by 2018, Musculus said.

"These are evolving products that are going to go on for many more years," he said. "We're getting foreign interest because we've been able to restart both the ATACMS line and the HIMARS line. Countries are coming to us and saying, 'Hey, we want to get in on that now.'"

Musculus added. "As the foreign governments come in and buy these munitions, it obviously helps out our U.S. customer with better pricing. The more you buy, the better the price."

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