February 18, 2013 – FoxNews.com – A defense official in the United Arab Emirates says the Gulf nation has signed $1.4 billion in military contracts that include purchases of U.S.-made drones.
The deal, worth nearly $200 million and confirmed by Fox News, suggests Gulf Arab states are looking to boost surveillance capabilities to match claims by rival Iran of growing drone technology.
The UAE says the Predator drones, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, will not be outfitted for weapons capabilities, but used for reconnaissance.
Still, the use of drones has become a major and controversial topic since Americans learned last year that President Obama was secretly and personally ordering the use of missile-loaded ones to kill Americans living abroad and suspected of terrorism.
Iran has claimed it has developed its own sophisticated drones and managed to reverse-engineer a CIA drone seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace.
UAE military spokesman Maj. Gen. Obaid al-Ketbi also said the deals include 750 U.S.-made mine-resistant vehicles.
The contracts were announced Monday at a defense show in Abu Dhabi.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[divider dotted] Palestinians slam planned UAE drone purchase
Monday Jan. 16, 2012 11:42 AM (EST+7)
RAMALLAH, January 16 (JMCC) – Palestinians criticized the United Arab Emirates for attempting to buy several drones from Israel in a deal that has been stalled by Israel’s defense ministry, reports Al Akhbar.
“The UAE establishment was caught several times normalizing relations with Israel, in sports, in diamonds, in retail, and even in academia, but this is by far the worst instance of this shameful normalization,” said Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Israel’s ministry of defense has allegedly stalled a drone deal between an Israeli aeronautics company and the UAE, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported, citing a report by the Paris-based journal Intelligence Online last Thursday.
The UAE was set to buy several drones from Aeronautics, an Israeli company specializing in unmanned aerial vehicles, but the Israeli defense ministry refused to give the deal its stamp of approval.
Aeronautics is Israel’s fifth-largest defense company and manufactures at least six types of drones, several of which have been used against Palestinians in Israeli attacks in Gaza. A Human Rights Watch report from 2009 detailed how Israeli drones killed at least 29 civilians throughout the year.