The United Arab Emirates is closer to getting unmanned Predator aircraft built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

The Persian Gulf country has reportedly signed a deal to buy the aircraft from an intermediary, a business called International Golden Group. GA-ASI has yet to finalize its contract with International Golden Group, said Kimberly Kasitz, spokeswoman for GA-ASI.

Terms of the deal and the number of aircraft involved were not disclosed. The deal would be for the Predator XP, a model designed for export that is similar to the original model Predator. The aircraft will reportedly not carry weapons.

The news came against the background of a trade show in the United Arab Emirates where GA exhibited a mock-up of the Predator XP.

Kasitz said there are several more steps needed for the sale, including approval from the State Department and Congress. GA-ASI must also get an export license for the hardware.

In addition, the company is nailing down an agreement with a third party to provide logistics support for the aircraft.

The UAE is located on the Arabian Peninsula on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. If the deal goes through, it will be the first non-NATO customer for the Predator. Italy and the United Kingdom already fly the aircraft.

GA-ASI said the U.S. government has licensed the Predator XP for a broad customer base, including countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

— SDBJ Staff Report