United Arab Emirates (UAE) will finalise an estimated $7bn deal to buy the terminal high-altitude area defence (THAAD) missile system this year, Lockheed International Air and Missile Defence Strategic Initiatives vice-president Dennis Cavin said at IDEX expo.

“We are very close to finalising the documentation necessary to have a successful programme for the UAE. This spring, the US Government will make an announcement,” he added.

THAAD is an advanced missile defence system and a key element of the ballistic missile defence system (BMDS) being designed to defend troops, allied forces, population centres and critical infrastructure.

The UAE has been negotiating the acquisition since late 2008 and the US could issue a letter of agreement in the next few months after which UAE is expected to start negotiations with contractors on production schedules.

Raytheon will support Lockheed in providing logistics and sustainment services if the deal is finalised, according to Reuters.

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) is being held in the capital of the UAE with participation from 1,060 companies.