The United Arab Emirates has overlooked a Russian arms deal, signing a contract worth $3.3 billion to buy missiles from a US firm instead.
The contract with US defense contractor Raytheon will provide the UAE with American-made Patriot missiles, Abu Dhabi based-newspaper National reported Saturday.
The agreement will also include the provision of necessary technology and training for the medium-range missile system, which is part of a multi-tiered defensive shield.
According to the Emirati paper, the UAE was previously prepared to turn to Russia for the purchase of an air defense system. However, the Arab sheikhdom chose the US firm to reinforce its strategic military links with Washington.
The US Defense Department announced in September that it had proposed the sale of helicopters and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to the UAE.
The THAAD system is designed to counter short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both inside and outside the Earth's atmosphere.
The UAE is reportedly bracing itself for the fallout of a potential military conflict in the region.
"If you ask the Iranians, they have no intention to threaten the UAE and I believe the UAE appreciates that," the National quoted an analyst for Janes Land-Based Air Defense magazine as saying. "But like everybody else in an area of conflict, you have to be prepared."
Israel, the possessor of the sole nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, has threatened to launch air strikes against Iran under its allegations that the country is developing a military nuclear program.
Iran rejects the allegations and insists that its work is directed at the civilian applications of the technology.
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