WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration told Congress on Wednesday it planned to sell Kuwait the latest production version of Raytheon Co’s(RTN.N) Patriot interceptor missile to bolster defenses against a perceived missile threat from Iran.
Kuwait is seeking as many as 209 MIM-104E Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-T (GEM-T) interceptors valued at up to $900 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a notice to lawmakers.
“Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons,” the notice said. It said Kuwait would use the increased capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.
The GEM-T is designed to counter a range of enemy missile and air threats, including tactical ballistic missiles that could be tipped with chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.
The notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded. Congress has 30 days to review the proposed sale.
The sale would not alter the basic military balance in the region, the notice said.
Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the Congressional Research Service, said the proposed sale was part of a U.S. drive to contain growing Iranian military clout “and prepare for the possibility that Iran might acquire a nuclear capability.”
The United States is also building up the anti-missile capability of the nearby United Arab Emirates and Israel, among others.
The prime contractor for the proposed GEM-T sale to Kuwait would be Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon, the world’s biggest missile maker, the Pentagon said.
“The sale would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO ally which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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