UAE to buy 3 Airbus refuelling aircraft

Filed on February 20, 2007

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates Air Force will buy three military Airbus A330 refuelling aircraft rather than rival Boeing’s 767 plane, a UAE military spokesman said yesterday.

“A memorandum of understanding was signed with (Airbus parent company) EADS ... for the acquisition of a number of refuelling aircraft,” General Obeid Al Kotbi said on the second day of a defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi. The UAE Air Force had been looking at both the A330 and the US-manufactured Boeing 767, said Gen. Kotbi, who is also the spokesman for the exhibition, Idex-2007.

He said the UAE will purchase three of the European-made aircraft but did not give the value of the deal.

EADS, which is taking part in the exhibition in the UAE capital, had no immediate comment.

The French defence ministry said last week that talks were continuing with Saudi Arabia on a possible order for two of the refuelling aircraft from the European aerospace group. Meanwhile, the vice-president of Eurocopter, an EADS subsidiary, said that Saudi Arabia was in talks with the company about the purchase of helicopters. The kingdom is interested in the Eurocopter helicopters “for its armed forces and national guard,” Olivier Lambert told AFP on the sidelines of the exhibition.

“These are state-to-state discussions,” said Lambert, adding that Sultanate of Oman and Jordan had already ordered various types of the Eurocopter craft. Xavier Hay, the company’s vice-president in the Middle East and Africa, said that 650 Eurocopter helicopters were already in service in the Middle East and Maghreb Arab countries.

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