PARIS: Kuwait signed €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) worth of military fixed and provisional deals led by the purchase of 24 Airbus-built Caracal helicopters, the French government said yesterday. Paris said Kuwait would purchase 24 helicopters for a billion euros with an option for a further six. The Caracal, which is deployed on combat rescue missions and long-distance troop transport, is fitted out with radar missile protection, while its weaponry includes air-to-ground and air-to-sea missiles. The agreements came a month after Kuwait agreed to buy 28 Typhoon combat warplanes from the Eurofighter consortium.
Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower amid increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the jihadist Islamic State group. Further deals included provision of French light armored vehicles and patrol boat maintenance. A source familiar with the negotiations indicated that the patrol boats would include the revamping of eight P37 craft that France sold to Kuwait after Iraq’s 1990 invasion that sparked the first Gulf War in 1991. After the conflict the two countries signed a defence agreement and today Kuwaiti’s military hierarchy is largely French-trained. The French defense ministry has yet to confirm whether Paris will ultimately also supply new vessels.
Yesterday’s accords were signed by a slew of ministers including French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron in the presence of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Kuwaiti counterpart HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Kuwait also indicated readiness to create a €450 million fund to invest in French small and medium-sized technology and health firms, a French government source said, in cooperation with BPIFrance, a public sector body dedicated to investment. France said it will meanwhile build a €100 million oncology centre in Kuwait.
Kuwait and France also signed a number of other agreements, memorandums of understanding and declarations of intent at the conclusion of bilateral talks. The two countries signed an agreement involving the French institute for archeology and social sciences. They signed declarations of intent on availing Radio France International the right to broadcast its programs on Kuwaiti airwaves, on cooperation between French and Kuwaiti financial institutes, and on cooperation between the Kuwait National Guard and its French counterpart. Furthermore, the countries signed an educational agreement between Kuwait’s Public Authority for Applied Education and Training and the Paris Academy and another regarding water desalination between the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and a French university. – Agencies