The US defence giant Lockheed Martin yesterday bought a stake in the UAE's military aircraft repair and maintenance company.
The deal moves on plans by the Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre (AMMROC) to become a global leader in military aviation services.
AMMROC, which was founded last year to service the 450 planes and helicopters owned by the UAE Armed Forces, is part of Mubadala Aerospace's goal to develop a domestic aerospace industry through a cluster of businesses based in Al Ain.
Mubadala Development is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
"Lockheed's decision to acquire an equity interest is an important component of our plans to create a world-class facility that provides a self-sustaining and commercially viable platform for the UAE Armed Forces," said Homaid al Shemmari, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) and AMMROC.
Lockheed, based in Texas, joins an AMMROC shareholder group that includes Sikorsky Aerospace Services and ADAT, its majority owner.
Aggregate investment in the centre now exceeds US$800 million (Dh2.93 billion), and the joint venture aims to take advantage of the burgeoning $2bn-a-year market for maintaining and repairing F-16 jets, Black Hawk helicopters and other military aircraft being used in the Gulf.
Further illustrating the potential of this lucrative market, a recent report from the management consultancy AeroStrategy estimated that 93 per cent of the region's airframe, engine and component maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) was outsourced to the private sector.
AMMROC aims to draw on Lockheed's decades of experience in the industry to bring significant expertise to the MRO service offering.
The planned centre is expected to provide platform solutions for all fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, ensuring readiness, deployability, improved safety and self reliance.
Saj Ahmad, an airlines analyst at FBE Aerospace, believes that ADAT will now also be able to garner first-hand military overhaul experience from its new co-partner.
"This will enhance its own capabilities for specialist outsourcing and maintenance deals with other military-present countries in the UAE," he said.