x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

$100m deal up for grabs to keep UAE's F-16 fighter jets flying

Defence contractors are in line for up to $100 million in spares and support for the UAE military's fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

Defence contractors are in line for up to $100 million in spares and support for the UAE military's fleet of F-16 fighter jets. AFP/PHOTO ANGELO CUCCA
Defence contractors are in line for up to $100 million in spares and support for the UAE military's fleet of F-16 fighter jets. AFP/PHOTO ANGELO CUCCA

The UAE is requesting as much as $100 million (Dh367.8m) worth of maintenance and spare parts for its fleet of F-16 fighter jets, according to the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The move is seen as a general maintenance and sustainment deal relating to its existing fleet of fighter jets, which were recently deployed in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone with Nato allies.

The DSCA informed the US Congress that the UAE is interested in a possible sale of support and maintenance of "classified and unclassified" F-16 fighter jet components.

The items include aircraft systems and munitions, spare and repair parts, technical documents, personnel training communications equipment, and "other related elements of programme support", it said.

The sale was recommended after the US agency called the UAE "an important force for peace, political stability, and economic progress in the Middle East" and recognised the Emirates' "legitimate security and defence needs".

Although the posting reported that there was no company that would serve as the prime contractor for this deal, the aircraft are manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The US aerospace giant recently partnered with Sikorsky Aerospace Services and Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, to create a military aviation maintenance firm named AMMROC (Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre).

In 1999, the UAE signed one of the largest Middle East aerospace deals in history when it ordered 80 F-16s, worth an estimated $7bn, that were technically more advanced than the version in use by the US Air Force. It also operates a fleet of Mirage 2000 fighter jets and has been engaged in discussions with Dassault Aviation of France over its Rafale "omnirole fighter".

igale@thenational.ae