The biggest news from the 2009 IDEX exhibition was the UAE’s twin selections of medium (12 Lockheed C-130J) and heavy (4 Boeing C-17) transport aircraft. Estimates at the time placed the total value at AED 10.7 billion (about $2.78 billion), but the estimates were low for the C-17, and would likely rise further if the C-130 order also goes through. The C-17 order later rose to a confirmed contract for 6 planes, and negotiations remain in progress for the C-130J-30 buy.
Given the country’s geographic position, and the global shortage of military airlift capacity outside of the United States, a force of this size and quality can be parlayed into international influence by supporting multi-national military deployments and humanitarian efforts from Africa to South Asia, and around the world.
With the 2011 Dubai Airshow in full swing, the biggest question on site is: what’s happening to the UAE’s planned fighter deal? The United Arab Emirates’ interest in up to 60 Dassault Rafale fighters has seen years of negotiations, and the 2011 show was expected to be the clincher.
Instead, it has opened the door to Eurofighter GmbH, even as Boeing admits to giving classified technical briefings centered on its F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15 Strike Eagle families. Unlike Eurofighter, Boeing hasn’t received an RFP, but other reports suggest that the UAE may be about to reduce its planned new jet order and buy more of its unique Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60s, regardless of what happens next. The bombshell hit at Dubai’s 2011 air show.
Sept 22/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] the United Arab Emirates’ request to buy 500 AGM-114R3 Hellfire II missiles, plus containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, repair and return support, training equipment and personnel training, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $65 million, and if a contract is negotiated, it will be with the Lockheed/Boeing Hellfire Systems LLC joint venture in Orlando, FL. Under Foreign Military Sales rules, the US military will act as the UAE’s agent, and the order will almost certainly be added to the USA’s existing umbrella contract.
The AGM-114R has a triple-threat warhead, which works against armored vehicles, fortified positions, and troops in the open. The UAE can deploy them on its modernized AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, and also on its forthcoming UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters equipped with the Battlehawk kit.
The United Arab Emirates is best known for its city of Dubai, an ultra-modern port city that has become the trading and commercial hub of the Middle East. As a May 2005 article in National Defense Magazine notes, however, it has also acquired a reputation for a strong and respected military procurement system.
One of their current initiatives involves the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters the country acquired in 1991 and 1994. The plan involves remanufacture and modernization of 30 AH-64A aircraft to the current AH-64D Longbow Block II standard. Deliveries to the UAE were scheduled to begin in May 2008 and continue through November 2009, with support activities continuing through November 2010. Ancillary equipment requests also come with that effort. DID presents a timeline that extends back to the original 2002 DSCA announcement.
The United Arab Emirates’ government announced at IDEX 2009 that it has selected a winner in its lead-in fighter trainer and light attack aircraft competition. The competition has been closely contested, as new options have appeared on the market, and the UAE’s planned order of up to 60 planes could provide an important sales and investment boost.
IDEX 2007 saw the shortlist announced. BAE’s Hawk already serves in this role for a number of air forces around the world, and is in service with the UAE, but their Mk128 variant was eliminated early. That left Aermacchi’s M346, a spinoff from a collaborative effort that also produced Russia’s very similar Yak-130; and Korean Aerospace’s supersonic T/A-50, designed and marketed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin…
During the 2009 Dubai airshow, the United Arab Emirates signed a contract with Pilatus to buy 25 PC-21 intermediate trainer aircraft, in a package worth $511 million. That package also covers several training simulators and associated systems and services. The UAE will join Switzerland and Singapore as PC-21 operators; earlier PC-7 and PC-9 designs are widely used around the world. Pilatus | Dubai Airshow 09.
US Defense Security Cooperation Agency requests can take a notoriously long time to turn into orders, but this article covers a pair of dedicated DSCA requests made over the last 2 years, including the latest $500+ million request with an interesting addendum.
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) is part of an integrated aerospace cluster that is being assembled at Dubai World Central – the new 140 square kilometer airport and logistics city being constructed at Jebel Ali, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The firm is made up of 6 divisions – DAE Airports, DAE Capital, DAE Engineering, DAE Manufacturing, DAE Services, and DAE University. Dubai has long since taken over from Lebanon as the business and financial center of the Middle East, however, and DAW sees growing regional and global opportunities in the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business.
Which may explain the formal completion of DAE’s $1.9 billion acquisition of aviation service providers Standard Aero and Landmark Aviation from The Carlyle Group.
Defense Update covers the UAE’s IDEX 2007 show, which ended last Thursday. IDEX is the premier Middle East arms exhibition, and one that is growing in both size and global prominence given regional spending trends. During the show, the UAE Armed Forces announced that it has signed deals with worth over 1.34 billion Dirhams (currently about $360 million) with local and international companies. The UAE’s defense procurement process is widely respected, and carries influence beyond its borders. Announcements included:
The United Arab Emirates tapped Grintek to install naval warning systems on four of its corvettes. The R7 million contract will allow the ships to know when they are targeted by laser-guided weapons so that they can trigger defense or evasion mechanisms. Grintek’s Avitronics subsidiary, which developed the system, sold just under half the company to Swedish defense manufacturer Saab. Grintek sells similar warning systems for aircraft and ground vehicles.