Friday, February 23, 2007

A Seller’s Market

The entirely unplanned and unforeseeable chaos in Iraq is worrying nearby countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Accordingly, they’re using their record oil profits to stock up on fancy new weapons:

Some 900 weapons makers and security firms from around the world, including the U.S. and Russia, will compete for those military buys at the IDEX military show that opens Sunday in Abu Dhabi. At stake are contracts predicted to soar past the $2 billion signed at the last such show two years ago.

"The shopping lists are directly correlated to the threat perception," said military analyst Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. "For the past 15 years, these countries didn't invest a lot in rearming." But now they're rushing to upgrade.
High time, too. Defense contractors have bills to pay like everyone else.

The Saudis apparently have their eye on the elegant Tiger helicopter gunships manufactured by Eurocopter. They'll definitely need them, if they really intend to intervene on behalf of the Sunnis in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Northop Grumman will tempt the Emirates’ jaded palates with unmanned drones, and “U.S. manufacturer AAI Corp. will demonstrate robots [sic] boats as a defense for offshore oil platforms and ports.” (That'd be the Interceptor, which strikes me at first glance as a rather dangerous thing to deploy around oil platforms and ports, especially given the current imperfections of collision-avoidance systems for UAVs.)

It looks as though Raytheon will be the belle of the ball, given the Gulf’s appetite for Patriot missiles. (Which reminds me: Raytheon recently granted legal protections to its transgender and transsexual employees, which must be deeply offensive to traditionalist customers like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. If these weapons are ever used against Americans, Dinesh D'Souza will know precisely who to blame.)

In related news, IDEX vendor BAE Systems has just had a bit of good luck:
Shares in Europe's largest defense contractor, BAE Systems, hit their highest levels in over seven years Thursday, just weeks after the British government called off an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), allowing several stalled arms contracts with Saudi Arabia to proceed....BAE has been charged with bribing members of the Saudi Royal family to win the contracts....The probe was dropped in December to avoid damaging relations with Riyadh, on the grounds of "public interest."
In unrelated news, Defense Tech reports on the recent downing of several US helicopters:
[T]he enemy has simultaneously figured out how to use the gear stashed in sheds and burrows around the country and found the cojones to use it....

Whether Stingers from the CIA by way of the Taliban or SA-18s from Russia by way of Iran, the bad guys have possession of weapons that can reach out and touch our rotary wing aircraft. That's a big eye-opener, considering that going by air was heretofore considered the safer alternative to traveling over IED-infested roads.

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