Oman, Qatar Want to Buy Northrop Aircraft Defense Systems

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) filed two separate notifications with Congress Wednesday, informing American legislators of plans to make foreign military sales to the Mideast nations of Oman and Qatar [links open in PDF].

Both notifications involve the planned sale of AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Systems -- a Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  ) -developed system for protecting aircraft from heat-seeking missiles by "blinding" the missiles with onboard laser systems. Oman and Qatar want to purchase two LAIRCM systems apiece, with contract values estimated at $100 million and $110 million, respectively.

In each case, the nations plan to install the LAIRCM systems aboard Boeing aircraft tasked with carrying their heads of state. DSCA says that allowing these nations to equip their aircraft with the LAIRCM system will "enhance the safety" of their "political leadership, promoting stability and global engagement of a friendly country."

According to DSCA's notifications, both sales are expected to "contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a partner country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East." Meanwhile, "no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness" is expected to result from the sales.

If allowed to proceed, Northrop Grumman will be the prime contractor on both sales.

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