Patriot missile launcher

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The package will include US technical, engineering and logistics support

The UAE and US enjoy close military-to-military links

Washington CNN  — 

The US government said Thursday that it had approved a $2 billion arms sale to the United Arab Emirates.

The State Department approved the sale of 60 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles and 100 Patriot Guidance Enhanced-Tactical (GEM-T) missiles to the UAE, according to a statement released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees America’s foreign arms sales.

The UAE has fielded and operated Patriot missile batteries, which are capable of shooting down enemy missiles and aircraft, since 2009 and is one of several major US allies to use the system.

Congress was informed of the sale Wednesday, the announcement said, noting that the package will also include US government- and contractor-provided technical, engineering and logistics support services.

The two types of missiles are manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, respectively.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the announcement said.

The statement added that the sale “will enhance interoperability with US forces and increase security” while adding that “these missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

The UAE and US enjoy close military-to-military links, with both participating in the fight against ISIS and joint counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in Yemen.

The country sees Iran as a threat is also one of the main players in a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, a group that the Pentagon says is backed by Iran. The US has been weighing whether to provide more support to that effort.

The UAE was the second-biggest destination for American arms exports from 2012 to 2016, ranking only behind Saudi Arabia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, which tracks information on weapons transfers.

The wealthy Persian Gulf state was the third biggest weapons importer worldwide during that same period, following India and Saudi Arabia.