x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE signs lucrative fighter jet service deal

Mubadala and Sikorsky will build an $800m military aircraft maintenance centre in Al Ain in a bid to capture a $2bn share of the GCC's repair market.

The UAE Air Force's F-16s will be among the military aircraft serviced at the new Al Ain repair base.
The UAE Air Force's F-16s will be among the military aircraft serviced at the new Al Ain repair base.

FARNBOROUGH // Abu Dhabi is aiming at a US$2 billion-a-year share of the lucrative market in maintaining and repairing F-16 jets, Blackhawk helicopters and other military aircraft operating in the Gulf. Mubadala, the strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, is joining up with Sikorsky Aerospace Services of the US to build an $800 million (Dh2.93bn) military aircraft maintenance centre in Al Ain. The new partnership will focus on servicing the 450 planes and helicopters owned by the UAE Armed Forces, but also target a 10 per cent slice of the $19 billion spent every year on such repairs in the wider region. The business is growing fast because governments are outsourcing the work to the private sector to cut costs. Currently, planes and parts are shipped to the US and Europe for repair and maintenance, which are vital to keeping a battle-ready fighting force. "Eliminating the freight costs and the reduction in time should in itself be significant to armed forces in the UAE and the wider region," said Homaid al Shemmari, an executive director at Mubadala Aerospace. The joint venture, known as AMMROC (Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre), will tick another box in Mubadala's plans to develop a home-grown aerospace industry. The planned aerospace cluster in Al Ain has already signed up several investment partners, including a maintenance workshop for commercial airliners and a hi-tech parts manufacturing plant. The UAE Armed Forces has a fleet of F-16 and Mirage fighter jets, and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. It is also expected to acquire C-17, Chinook and C-130 transport aircraft and Airbus refuelling tankers over the next two years, providing further opportunities for AMMROC. "We have received tremendous support from the UAE Armed Forces and have worked closely with them," Mr al Shemmari said. As it expands outside the UAE, AMMROC hopes to capture up to 10 per cent of the regional market, he added. igale@thenational.ae