A few people have caught the significance of my blog last week about the UAE's decision to develop Raytheon's laser-guided rocket.
It's not the first time that the UAE has paid to a US defence contractor develop a weapon system that the US military has turned its back on. A far more significant example is the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60, which exists because of a large check signed by the UAE air force.
Airpower added his comment on the deal over the weekend. He wrote:
An interesting development for sure.
The UAE is pushing very strongly to build up its aerospace and defence industry (from scratch). This is the second overly military programme I can think of, following on from all those funky UAVs. So already the UAE shows an astute grasp of what's important – UAS technology and precision weapons – and is moving in a measured and sensible way to get involved.
I suspect the chances that this project will return to the US as a finished product are less likely. I think the UAE will consider this to be its own thing, bought and paid for. I think all that stuff about 'international customers' is window dressing.
If Raytheon has struck a deal for the UAE to develop a product that it can then sell on (to the US), how would the US authorities deal with the issue of the royalties due? The UAE knows how to play that game – keep an eye on the transfer of Block 60 tech to the F-16IN bid... it won't come for free.
Of course, given the sensible and reasoned debate there's been over the KC-X programme I'm sure the idea of buying bombs from Ay-rabs would not be a problem.
More than anything this seems be a decision by Raytheon that APKWS is going nowhere, that Raytheon doesn't have much of a chance anyway and that it might as well go and find a customer with money and enthusiasm somewhere else.