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posted: 2/18/2013 10:44 AM

U.A.E. to buy drones, Army jeeps in $1.4 billion defense deals

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Bloomberg News

The United Arab Emirates said it will spend $1.4 billion on jeeps, unmanned aircraft and missiles, and plans further defense deals as Persian Gulf countries bolster their armies.

The U.A.E. agreed to buy 750 military vehicles from Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp. for $380 million, and pay almost $200 million for Predator drones, Major General Obaid Al Ketbi said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi. Those were the largest of 17 contracts announced today, with more to follow. Al Ketbi said the U.A.E.'s air force is still deciding between planes made by Dassault Aviation SA and Eurofighter GmbH.

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Persian Gulf countries are investing in defense systems and expanding troop mobility as they take on foreign engagements. Abu Dhabi, hosting its biannual defense industry trade show, is seeking partnerships to help meet some of its requirements domestically and lessen the economy's reliance on oil.

Boeing Co. signed an agreement with state-owned Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments to provide maintenance and training services for drones from countries throughout the region, Debbie Rub, a vice president in Boeing's military aircraft division, said today.

The defense show opened in the U.A.E. capital yesterday with an inauguration ceremony in which Lockheed Martin Corp. F- 16 fighters and Dassault Mirage jets provided air support in a mock battle.

Agreements 'Imminent'

Speaking from the cabin of an all-terrain vehicle currently used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, John Urias, president of Oshkosh's defense segment, said the company is in talks with other Persian Gulf countries on sales of military vehicles. Some sales agreements are "imminent," he said in an interview.

The company is also discussing building military vehicles in the region in partnership with Gulf companies, and may sign a partnership agreement within the next year, Urias said.

Consulting and contracting firms will also benefit from military expansion, Steve Adragna, deputy managing director of Washington-based Arcanum Global, said in an interview. He said Arcanum opened an Abu Dhabi office last week as it seeks to win business advising governments on surveillance, protection from cyber-attacks and monitoring internal security threats.

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