Coalitions, co-operation and network integration were the buzzwords at Saturday’s Dubai International Air Chiefs (DIAC) conference on Dubai, organized by local think-tank Inegma. Six of the 10 air chiefs who spoke, talked of the inter-dependence between air forces, including two from the UAE Air Force and Air Defence. (UAEAF&AD). But one of the speakers privately told AIN that he had not yet seen much practical integration amongst the defense forces of the GCC states, beyond bilateral exercises.
United Arab Emirates Air Force
The United Arab Emirates Air Force has decided to buy another 25 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 fighters. The deal is worth $4 to $5 billion, according to a senior Pentagon official who briefed reporters in Washington. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, will also be receiving unspecified “advanced standoff weapons” for its fighters, added the same official. The sales have not yet been formally notified to the U.S. Congress, although the Pentagon had consulted with key legislators there, according to the official.
Eurocopter has entered into an agreement with Global Aerospace Logistics (GAL) as part of the airframer’s continuing effort to strengthen its profile and customer support services in the United Arab Emirates. The move is aimed specifically at enhancing the company’s capability to serve the UAE Armed Forces.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is proceeding with a controversial upgrade of 30 SA330 Puma helicopters that have already been operated by the Royal Air Force for nearly 40 years. Eurocopter will soon receive a contract worth about £220 million ($360 million) for a Life Extension Program (LEP) that will keep the Pumas in service for another 10 years, starting in 2012.
While record-breaking orders for airliners were announced, the just-completed Dubai Air Show, held from November 11 to 15, offered no big news for the defense industry. However, there were important developments across the border in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE Air Force is close to making important decisions about its future pilot training system.