x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE revamps Blackhawk helicopter fleet

A Dh993 million deal to develop 23 Blackhawk helicopters will broadly expand their military capabilities.

ABU DHABI // The UAE is revamping its fleet of Blackhawk helicopters with a Dh993 million deal to add more weapons and otherwise develop 23 of the aircraft, broadly expanding their military capability.

In a nod to the local defence industry, the contract was awarded to Abu Dhabi Aviation Technologies.

In a separate deal with Sikorsky, the manufacturer of the Blackhawk, UAE pilots, navigators and technicians will train on operating the helicopters in a deal worth Dh64.8 million.

The revamp expands the potential uses of the UAE's fleet. In a display of military capability at the IDEX opening ceremony, Blackhawk helicopters were used to provide close air support to elite Emirati counter-terrorism troops.

The UAE says the developed Blackhawks can have a range of uses that include troop transport, humanitarian missions and military settings.

The UAE has also announced that it will buy engines from South Africa for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which are pilot-less drones, worth Dh6.3 million, suggesting the possibility that the UAE has its own unmanned drones.

kshaheen@thenational.ae