ABU DHABI // The UAE has ordered two surveillance satellites from France worth almost Dh3.4 billion.

The deal was signed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the state news agency Wam said yesterday.

Two high-resolution Helios-type military observation satellites and a ground station will be delivered to the Armed Forces.

The satellites will be provided by Franco-Italian defence firm Thales Alenia Space and Astrium, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

Twenty engineers will be trained to use the new equipment, Agence France-Presse reported.

The agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi and was worth “a little over €700m [Dh3.39 billion]”, said Astrium’s chief executive, Francois Auque.

France and the UAE said the agreement was a sign of good cooperation between the two countries.

“The two sides reaffirmed that for more than four decades, the UAE and France have enjoyed a strong and effective bilateral relationship, underpinned by a long history in the areas of energy and defence,” Wam said.

It added the deal was part of a “strategic partnership framework” agreed to by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, and French president Francois Hollande during a state visit to Abu Dhabi in January.

Sources from the French ministry of defence were quoted this week in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro saying this deal marked the first major defence export contract for France within the past five years.

“It marks the return of France in the [Arabian] Gulf,” a source was quoted as saying. “It is a great satisfaction for France and for our defence industry.”

Source: http://www.thenational.ae