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U.A.E. unveils $83.7 million order for Italian helicopters

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday ordered eight AB139 Italian-made helicopters worth $83.7 million, its military procurement chief said on the third day of a major arms show.

Bell Agusta Aerospace won the deal in the face of competition from France's Eurocopter, which had offered its EC155, Brigadier Obaid al-Ketbi, spokesman for IDEX 2005, told reporters.

The helicopters, manufactured in northern Italy under a joint venture between U.S. firm Bell and Italian arms maker Augusta, will have a multi-role function in the Emirati armed forces, Ketbi said.

The U.A.E. also signed Tuesday a $48 million contract with Swiss company Inovex Simulation and Training Ltd. for the modernization of the training system of some army units, a deal for which France's Thales had also been vying, Ketbi said.

He said Abu Dhabi on Tuesday finalized deals totaling $195.3 million with foreign and local companies, including a 15-million-dollar contract with Italian firm Elettronica SPA for the supply of electronic equipment.

The latest contracts take to $840 million the total value of the deals concluded by the U.A.E. since the seventh edition of the international defense exhibition it is hosting opened in the Emirati capital Sunday, Ketbi said.

German companies have so far clinched the two biggest deals announced at the five-day show, in which more than 900 exhibitors from 50 countries are taking part.

Beirut,02 21 2005
The Daily Star
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