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UAE to buy US-made surveillance drones in hint of race with rival Iran

A defense official in the United Arab Emirates says the Gulf nation has signed $1.4 billion in military contracts that include purchases of U.S.-made drones.

The drone deal, worth nearly $200 million, suggests Gulf Arab states are looking to boost surveillance capabilities to match claims by rival Iran of growing drone technology. The UAE says the Predator drones, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, will not be outfitted for weapons capabilities, but used for reconnaissance.

Iran has claimed it has developed its own sophisticated drones and managed to reverse-engineer a CIA drone seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace.

UAE military spokesman Maj. Gen. Obaid al-Ketbi also said the deals include 750 U.S.-made mine-resistant vehicles.

The contracts were announced Monday at a defense show in Abu Dhabi.