US defence contractor Raytheon is set to sign a multi-billion dollar contract with Oman for the sale of its ground-based air defence system during US secretary of state John Kerry's official visit to the country.
An undisclosed senior US State Department official was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying that one of the main reasons of Kerry's visit to the Gulf country is to approve the signing of a letter of intent (LoA), expected on 22 May, prior to discussions on the final contract.
"In January the Omanis made a decision to buy a ground-based air defence system produced by Raytheon, something that the secretary advocated for when he was in the Senate," the official said.
"Part of the goal of this is to push US commercial interests, to demonstrate to Oman that these are important to this administration."
Noting that the systems would boost the country's ability to protect its critical infrastructure against unmanned-aerial vehicles (UAVs) and cruise missile attacks, the official said the contract would have an estimated value of $2.1bn, even though final details have yet to be determined.
"Oman has also recently brought a second tranche of F-16s so this is a way of continuing our relationship in the defence arena and will have pluses in terms of interoperability," the official added.
Raytheon spokesman Jon Kasle refused to comment on the remarks made by the US officials.
However, while discussing first quarter earnings in April, Raytheon chief executive officer Bill Swanson has told analysts that considerable progress has been achieved by the company on several foreign military sales (FMS) programmes, including sale of a ground-based air defence system to Oman, as reported by Reuters.
Image: US secretary of state John Kerry. Photo: courtesy of US Department of State.