AIRSHOW-Northrop Grumman aims for bigger role in UAE arms sales

Reuters

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Northrop Grumman Corp hopes to expand its ties to the United Arab Emirates in comingyears, including the potential sale of its E-2D airborne earlywarning radar planes, the company's new chief executive for theUAE said on Saturday.

"There are incredible opportunities here," Douglas Raaberg,a former senior U.S. Air Force official who joined Northrop in2010, told Reuters in an interview after the Dubai InternationalAir Chiefs conference. Raaberg was named last month asNorthrop's first chief executive officer for UAE.

Raaberg said foreign officials who spoke at the conferenceunderscored growing international demand for unmanned vehicletechnology, cybersecurity solutions, intelligence, surveillanceand reconnaissance equipment, and logistics systems -- all areasin which Northrop had a strong position.

Northrop, Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin andother U.S. weapons makers are scrambling to drum up foreignorders as the Pentagon prepares for a cut of over $1 trillion inprojected military spending in coming years.

Northrop, one of the big U.S. arms makers with the leastforeign orders, has a range of equipment and offerings in eachof the areas drawing international interest, said Raaberg.

Raaberg has held several key Air Force jobs in the regionduring his 30-year military career, including heading U.S.Central Command's air and space operations in the Middle Eastand Central Asia. He will be based in Abu Dhabi.

Raaberg said his job was to help strengthen Northrop'srelations with UAE leaders and convey their military andcivilian equipment needs to top company leaders in Washington.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based weapons maker already hasclose ties to the region through its work on an F-16 upgradeprogram, and its support of Navy and Air Force unmanned systemssuch as the high-flying Global Hawk spy plane that operate inthe region.

"The one thing we don't want to do is just come and sellsomething. What we want to do is really bring the partnershipwith it. That partnership will last for decades," he said.

One of the key products Northrop hopes to sell to UAEleaders is a new airborne early warning (AEW) platform, as wella range of unmanned vehicles and training services.

The U.S. government approved the sale of the E-2D AdvancedHawkeye to UAE some time ago, but UAE's procurement process hasdragged on for many years.

UAE decided in 2009 to buy two Saab 340 turboprop aircraftas an interim-solution and put off the decision for some time.

Boeing is also competing for the UAE order with a 737-basedplatform that includes Northrop's multi-role electronicallyscanned array radar.

Jerry Spruill, a senior Northrop executive, said Washingtonyears ago approved possible foreign sales of the E-2D aircraft,which was approved for full-rate production in February.

The company also hopes to sell the system to current usersof its earlier E-2C early warning radar plane, including Japan,Egypt, Taiwan and France.

Northrop has delivered 10 of the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeyeplanes to the U.S. Navy, and is under contract for 20 more. TheU.S. government plans to buy 75 of the new ground controls inthe years ahead.

Spruill said it made sense for foreign countries to buy E-2Dplanes now since added orders and increasing production for theU.S. Navy would help lower the price of the planes.

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