UAE awards $1.1bn defence contracts
Abu Dhabi, February 21, 2011
The UAE has awarded $1.1 billion of defence contracts to local and international firms with more deals to come this week, signaling continued military spending by the oil exporter.
Global arms manufacturers are vying for deals worth billions of dollars at the Middle East's largest defence expo - International Defense Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.
Heightened security concerns due to political unrest in parts of the Arab world and worries over Iran's nuclear ambitions could see the oil-rich Gulf states enhance their spending on defence, said experts.
The biggest three deals went to local firms with the largest, valued at Dh993.5 million ($270.6 million), awarded to Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies to upgrade and arm 23 Sikorsky's BlackHawk UH 60M helicopters on Monday.
Another deal worth Dh853.6 million was awarded to Emirates Response Service and Britain's Assetco to provide fire fighting services, human resources, equipment and maintenance.
'Some of these deals were signed just before Idex. In the coming few days we will sign more deals,' Major General Obeid al Ketbi, the Idex spokesman told reporters.
An estimated $7 billion deal to purchase the advanced missile defense system called THAAD from Lockheed Martin is still under negotiations with a final agreement to be sealed in 'the near future,' said Ketbi.
A senior Lockheed Martin official told Reuters on Sunday the deal will be announced this Spring.
Asked about developments on a potential deal with France's Dassault Aviation for the supply of Rafale warplanes, Ketbi said work is still underway.-Reuters