UAE inks $1.4bn defence deals, including drones

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The UAE armed forces has signed defence contracts worth AED5.2bn (US$1.4bn), including one for unmanned aerial drones, a spokesperson for the country’s military said.

The 17 deals, announced at Monday’s International Defence Exhibition and Conference, includes a AED722m contract with US-based General Atomics to buy unmanned aerial drones known as Predators, said Major General Obaid Al Ketbi. The purchase will be made through Abu Dhabi-based International Golden Group.

The largest deal, worth AED1.4bn, was for US defence contractor Oshkosh Corporation for 750 armoured vehicles.

Other deals include a AED472.7m contract with Russian KBP to buy ammunition and a AED720m contract with Tawazun to purchase laser guided missiles.

Gulf states and other Middle Eastern countries are ramping up their military spending amid increasing tensions with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Foreign weapon sales by the United States tripled last year to US$66.3bn as Gulf states sought to build up military supplies amid growing tensions with the Islamic Republic, according to a study by the US Congressional Research Service.

“There is a geopolitical situation in the region which explains all of the defense spending,” said Claude Alber, vice president and managing director for Rockwell Collins EMEA.

Rockwell Collins, a supplier of avionics and other electronic systems for commercial and military airplanes, said it will increase the number of staff in the region amid increasing demand for its products.

“It’s growing in double digits, in the next five years we see a solid double digit growth,” said Alber.

“Of the 300 people we have in the region, a large part are field service engineers… which we’ll leverage to build trust with the customer and then to get more business with the customer,” he added.

BAE Systems, the world’s third largest arms maker, said the Middle East is an “incredibly important region” for the company but declined to offer any update regarding talks between the UAE and the UK on its GBP£6bn (US$9.2bn) deal to purchase 100 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

“It’s a government to government conversation and the role that the company has in that is supporting the government conversations with the UAE but we are delighted that David Cameron was here [in November] reflecting the relationship between the two countries,” said Ben Bridge, regional managing director, BAE Systems Middle East. 

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