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January 7, 2014

France-UAE satellite deal in jeopardy over US ‘spy tech onboard’

It is not yet clear whether the equipment made by the US would be removed from the French satellites.

By CBR Staff Writer

The sale of two French Falcon Eye spy satellites to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worth about a billion dollars is in jeopardy over alleged discovery of US-made technology components onboard that capture data sent to the ground station.

The French defence industry received a $930m contract for the supply of two high-resolution Pleiades-type Falcon Eye military intelligence satellites in July 2013, with the delivery scheduled for 2018.

According to a report, it is not yet clear whether the equipment made by the US could be removed off the French satellites. cited an undisclosed defence source as saying that the discovery of the US-made components was reported to the office of the deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohamm ed Bin Zayed in September.

"We have requested the French to change these components and also consulted with the Russian and Chinese firms," the source added.

However, some industry watchers believe that the UAE’s threats to abandon the deal as a way to secure a better bargain from the French as the satellites would be part of a big package deal.

The US government is also under fire by tech firms including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, among several others over alleged NSA’s overseas snooping activities, while it is also being sued by civil liberties groups including American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Yale University’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic.

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