Why no fighter buy in Dubai?

The DEW Line has been a bit quiet of late. That’s not because there’s been nothing going on news-wise, but because Flightglobal’s defence team was flat-out preparing for and then covering last week’s Dubai air show.

If you didn’t catch the headlines from there then please check out our dedicated landing page, which includes stories, images and video, plus links to view our four Flight Daily News publications and access three interactive specials.


The “will they, won’t they” speculation about a United Arab Emirates order for the Eurofighter Typhoon delivered what I had expected – no deal – but I guess the decision-makers might have been busier with finalising $99 billion-worth of deals for A380s and 777Xs instead. For now, putting the UAE on the map as a transport super-hub is more important than acquiring combat aircraft in the face of no immediate threat.

From the UK’s point of view, more time to discuss the Typhoon deal (BillyPix image above) isn’t such a worry, as final assembly is running at a high rate for the Royal Air Force and Saudi Arabia, and as the first Tranche 3 jet has yet to fly. When and if the UAE is ready to sign, it will be able to have all the bells and whistles it wants (for those, read AESA radar and Storm Shadow-type cruise missile), and the conformal fuel tank design is more or less finalised for it too.

Despite the apparent lack of urgency (which we also saw before an F-16E/F order some years ago), the UAE’s air force is becoming increasingly well-equipped. In the static display and new from the last show were an A330 multi-role tanker/transport and C-17, and armed AT-802U and Cessna 208 (below, again from BillyPix). It’s only a matter of time before a new fighter will join them.



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