March 5 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin was awarded a $945.9 million contract in the first down payment for a $15 billion buy of missile defense system by Saudi Arabia.
The contract, awarded by the Missile Defense Agency and announced Monday by the Department of Defense, is the first purchase under a $15 billion deal for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made in October 2017.
The THAAD system is designed to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, including weapons of mass destruction, in descent or reentry. The first flight test occurred in April 1995, and the system has now been deployed by the United States around the world, in addition to being exported to allies.
As part of the down payment, Lockheed will provide THAAD foreign military sales KSA Phase I long lead items, obsolescence, tooling and test equipment, key personnel, line requalification activities, initial training development, System Integration Lab and testbeds, three-level maintenance concept, exportability and early engineering development.
The performance period of the contract started last Thursday and runs through Oct. 31, 2026, with work to be conducted in Dallas, Texas; Lufkin, Texas; Huntsville, Ala.; Anniston, Ala.; Camden, Ark.; Troy, Ala.; and Sunnyvale, Calif.
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of the defense systems to Saudi Arabia in October 2017. The deal was part of President Donald Trump's proposed 10-year $110 billion defense deal reached during his first full year in office when he met with King Mohammed bin Salman.
The King visited Lockheed's plant in Sunnyvale, Calif., last April, including checking out key elements of the THAAD system.
The total sales package agreed to in 2017 includes 44 THAAD launchers, 360 THAAD Interceptor Missiles, 16 THAAD Fire Control and Communications Mobile Tactical Station Group and seven AN/TPY-2 THAAD radars. Other items in the earlier overall deal include THAAD Battery maintenance equipment, 43 trucks, generators, electrical power units, trailers, communications equipment, tools, and test and maintenance equipment.
"This sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats," the agency said at the time. "This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia's capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region."
Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Raytheon are the principal contractors for the THAAD system.
Separately, Lockheed and Raytheon were awarded contracts last Thursday for missile support for the complementary Patriot program.
Saudi Arabia, which also boasts Patriot systems and uses PAC-3 missiles as part of its U.S.-supplied missile defense systems, was also included on Lockheed's $680 million deal for PAC-3 missile work.