By Andrea Shalal-Esa
DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. arms maker Raytheon Co
Tim Glaeser, vice president of Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business, told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow that demand for the company's Patriot and other missile defense equipment remained strong in the Gulf region.
Glaeser cited growing interest among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in developing a regional missile defense system similar to that operated by NATO, and said Raytheon was ready to help if asked.
U.S. industry executives participating in the air show say Gulf nations have not signaled any declining interest in beefing up their missile defense capabilities despite recent U.S. talks with Iran about dismantling its nuclear program.
Glaeser said Qatar was poised to become the fourth Gulf country to operate the Patriot system, joining the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Raytheon builds Patriot - a long-range, high-altitude, all-weather system - and acts as the systems integrator for the PAC-3 missile, which is built by Lockheed Martin Corp
Raytheon Chief Financial Officer Dave Wajsgras told Reuters last month he saw "tremendous opportunities" for international bookings in the fourth quarter, including large missile defense orders from Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
Raytheon officials have said in the past that the Qatar deal involves 11 fire units and is valued at around $2 billion.
Glaeser said officials from Qatar, the U.S. government and Raytheon were working to finish an agreement "as soon as all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed."
"There is a threat in the region and there is clearly a desire to move forward with an integrated air and missile defense. I think you'll see that happen fairly quickly," he said, although he declined to predict if the deal would close before year-end.
Raytheon has seen a resurgence in its Patriot program after the United Arab Emirates helped fund a major redesign to make the system faster, smarter and tougher as part of a $3.3 billion order in 2008.
The Patriot system is already used by 12 countries - United States, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea and UAE.
Glaeser said Raytheon hoped to wrap up a deal with Kuwait for additional fire units before the end of the year, with more orders possible later.
He said the company was also working to finalize a significant sale of its medium-range National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System to Oman in the near future.
Glaeser said Saudi Arabia and UAE were possible additional buyers of the system as a replacement for the older Hawk system they used now.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by David Evans)