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UAE Goes on an Arms-Buying Spending Spree

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Reports out of the International Defense Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday indicate that the United Arab Emirates is on a veritable spending spree for weapons programs. According to, UAE Maj. Gen. Obaid Al Ketbi has confirmed that the country will be buying an unspecified number of unarmed Predator XP drones from General Atomics Aeronautical for $197 million, using the International Golden Group as intermediary. (Requests for confirmation from the company went unresponded to.)

Nor was the Predator purchase the UAE's only big spend this week. To the contrary, at an estimated 5.2 billion dirhams ($1.4 billion) in total, it was less than 14% of all the money the UAE reported spending. A purchase of 750 M-ATV all-terrain MRAPs from Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK  ) was also confirmed, and at 1.4 billion dirhams ($381 million), that order was nearly than twice as big as the UAE's drone-buy -- and more than twice as big if you include the 50 M-ATVs the UAE had previously purchased from the company.

Oshkosh VP for Communications John Daggett clarified by email that the latest M-ATV sale was actually signed in July 2012. A statement at the time noted that the M-ATV, useful primarily for protecting truck crews from roadside improvised explosive devices, will bolster the UAE's ability to perform critical missions such as peacekeeping among "the Middle East and the broader community of nations." Oshkosh also noted at the time that the UAE has taken out options to purchase additional M-ATVs should they be required in the future.

Among other notable contracts, the UAE spent 472.7 million dirhams ($129 million) on ammunition from Russia, and 720 million dirhams ($196 million) to purchase laser-guided rockets from local defense company Tawazun.

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