Saudis, Israel to lead Mideast arms’ purchases

According to the firm Frost & Sullivan, because of the pursuance of its nuclear programme by Iran, the deals in the Gulf states are being closed down and heavy expenditure on the defence is being incurred in the Middle East, which is likely to exceed $100 billion in the next five years.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are going to be the main countries spending heavily on the defense. In 2008, Saudi Arabia spent nearly $36b, and would likely maintain the same extent of expenditure in the next five years.

During 2009, the expenditure by Israel is expected to be around $13b.

According to the report, "Israel's spending has been quite consistent as it has built a very effective and modern military with the most cutting-edge technologies," the report said. "It is still expected to keep spending to stay ahead of its regional adversaries in order to protect its interests."

The report further mentioned, "Iraq is one of the major markets being targeted by defense companies. Control of the country is gradually being transferred from US forces to Iraqi troops. As this happens the need for equipment and platforms for law enforcement would be increased."

Iraq is also likely to invest heavy amounts to upgrade its military infrastructure during the first five years of the next decade, with the expenditure likely to touch $11b by 2014.

Israel is keen to buy stealth F-35 fighter jet and two new missile ships. Recently, UAE and Saudi Arabia invested billions of dollars in ballistic missile defense systems, like THAAD. The sale of this system, outside the US, was first approved for the UAE.

Pentagon is likely to sell upgrades of Communication Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management to Saudi Arabia for about $1.5b.

The US has also been asked by the Saudis to buy Tactical Airborne Surveillance Systems which is estimated at $530 million. Recently, the UAE sought approval for the purchase of more than 360 Hellfire missiles, along with the hardware, from Pentagon.