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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

France, Saudi in 2.5 bln euro arms deal

France and Saudi Arabia are poised to sign a 2.5 billion euros ($3.21 billion) arms deal for 40 helicopters and at least two Airbus A330-200 refueling aircraft, La Tribune newspaper reported today.

The initial order - finalised on Sunday during talks in Riyadh between French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Saudi government officials - would comprise 30 Fennec multi-purpose military helicopters and 10 marine versions of the NH-90 transport helicopter, the newspaper said.

Both helicopters are made by Eurocopter, a division of European aerospace group EADS. EADS also owns 80 per cent of Airbus. La Tribune said the deal could be followed in 2007 by a further 4 billion euros order for 42 more NH-90 and other helicopters and ground-to-air missiles, while talks on a possible later sale of tanks, submarines, frigates and Rafale fighter aircraft were continuing. A French defence ministry spokesman was not immediately available to comment.


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