ABU DHABI Feb 18 The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
has signed defence contracts worth 5.2 billion dirhams ($1.4
billion), including one for unmanned aerial drones, a spokesman
for the country's military said on Monday.
The largest deal, worth 1.4 billion dirhams, was for 750
mine-resistant, ambush-protected, all-terrain vehicles from
The UAE's armed forces also agreed to buy an undisclosed
number of Predator drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),
from privately-owned U.S. firm General Atomics in a deal worth
722 million dirhams.
"UAVs are significant for any armed forces in present times.
There is a lot of demand for these," Major General Obeid
al-Ketbi told reporters at the largest arms exhibition in the
Middle East, held in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE awarded the contract to purchase the drones to a
local company, International Golden Group, which will buy them
from the U.S. firm. The deal marks General Atomics' first sale
of an unarmed version of its Predator drones in the Middle East
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among several countries,
according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, asking
U.S. officials to buy armed drones but which have been rebuffed.
Washington says its commitments to the Missile Technology
Control Regime (MTCR), a non-binding international agreement
designed to limit the spread of long-range precision weaponry,
restrict drone exports.
General Atomics' export-variant Predator will have no "hard
points" to attach missiles and would be deliberately engineered
to make adding new weaponry impossible, the company said last
Ketbi said the UAE, which faced little of the political
unrest seen during the Arab Spring upheaval across the region,
had drone manufacturing capabilities domestically.
"There is definitely a chance to export abroad," he said.
Other UAE military contracts were awarded to Russia's KBP
which got a 472.7-million-dirham deal to supply ammunition.
Local defence firm Tawazun won a 720-million-dirham contract to
procure laser guided rockets.