COLOGNE, Germany — Sweden’s Saab has received a much-anticipated order, worth $1 billion, for two additional GlobalEye spy planes from the United Arab Emirates, the company announced Monday.

The contract is an extension of a 2015 deal, which saw the country commit to an initial three copies of the GlobalEye, made up of Bombardier Global 6000 business jets equipped with Saab’s Erieye long-range radar and other surveillance sensors. That arrangement included an option for two additional buys, which are now coming to fruition.

“We are proud that the United Arab Emirates continues to show great trust in Saab and our solutions,” Saab CEO Micael Johansson was quoted as saying in a statement. “It shows that Saab remains on the cutting edge regarding advanced technology. The Global Eye program is running according to plan and we have an efficient cooperation with the customer.”

Saab expects work on the two new planes to be finished by 2025, using its Swedish sites of Gothenburg, Linköping, Arboga, Järfälla and Luleå, and Centurion in South Africa.

The contract signing happened on Dec. 30, which means Saab can book it on the 2020 balance sheet, the company said.

The UAE military received its first GlobalEye plane resulting from the 2015 deal in the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus crisis was just beginning to grip the globe.

The Global 6000-series business and VIP jets continue to be popular platforms for intelligence gathering and early warning. A year ago the German government ditched plans to buy U.S. Navy “Triton” drones for signals-intelligence collection, choosing instead to install the requisite sensing equipment on the manned jets.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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