July 22 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. received a $1.4 billion contract to build the THAAD anti-missile shield for Saudi Arabia, the Defense Department announced.
The system is part of a series of much larger defense equipment deals reached by the United States and Saudi Arabia in the last two years that have far surpassed the $100 billion mark.
The contract modification announced Friday increases its value from $3.8 billion to $5.2 billion, and is part of a $110 billion weapons sale offering presented by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States in May 2017.
In May 2019, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $945.9 million contract in the first down payment on a $15 billion Saudi missile defense system array. It followed a $2.5 billion contract for work on the Saudi system in April.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is designed to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, including weapons of mass destruction, in descent or reentry.
The THAAD program was initially developed by the U.S. Army but is now an element of the Missile Defense Agency. 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.
While purchase of the THAAD system is an expensive undertaking, Saudi Arabia also bought the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system in 2017. It suggests that Riyadh, traditionally a U.S. customer of military equipment and systems, is seeking alternatives.
Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control Division is the recipient of the new contract. Work will be done at Lockheed facilities in Dallas; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Huntsville, Ala.; Camden, Ark., and Troy, Ala., with a scheduled completion date of July 31, 2023.