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September 2, 2014

UAE, France close to finalising Falcon Eye satellites deal

The UAE and France are expected to finalise the long-awaited Falcon Eye satellites deal in the next few weeks.

The UAE and France are expected to finalise the long-awaited Falcon Eye satellites deal in the next few weeks.

In addition to this, the country is exploring the acquisition of 40 Rafale fighter jets from the French company Dassault, reported DefenseNews.

A UAE source with knowledge of the matter said the negotiations have been completed and the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to soon arrive in the UAE.

"For the Falcon Eye deal to proceed there is a need for a high level of technology transfer, and for that we have negotiated the possible purchase of 40 Rafale jets with the overhaul of the Mirage 2000 fleet," the source said.

Two high-resolution Pleiades-type Falcon Eye military observation satellites were ordered by the UAE along with two ground facilities and operator training for 20 engineers under a Dh3.39bn (€700m) contract from France in July 2013.

The satellites were scheduled to be delivered by prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space and payload-maker Thales Alenia Space by 2018.

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"For the Falcon Eye deal to proceed it requires a high level of technology transfer, hence the possible purchase of 40 Rafale jets."

However, the deal ran into difficulties in January 2014 following the discovery of two US-built security compromising components in the intelligence satellites that could enable transmission of all data to an unauthorised third party.

The contract deadline then lapsed due to a delay in gaining anexport license for the satellite components from the US, forcing the countries to restart talks on the terms and conditions of a new deal, according to the news agency.

A French defence ministry spokesman said: "Everything is going well. There is agreement on technology, economics and political issues.

"There are no problems. France is politically committed to reaching a conclusion on the contract.

A French industry executive said: "A new contract has been drawn up, all the companies must sign, and that signing is expected to take a couple of weeks."

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