Dubai 09: Raptor and Typhoon make surprise appearances

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With the United Arab Emirates air force having already received its Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60 fighters and widely reported to also be close to approving an order for Dassault's Rafale, the presence of two sector rivals at the show comes as a surprise.

Expected to make their debuts at the Dubai air show are the Eurofighter Typhoon - represented by an aircraft from the UK Royal Air Force - and the US Air Force's Lockheed F-22 Raptor. The latter was the source of great contractual controversy earlier this year, until President Barack Obama carried out his pledge to terminate production of the fifth-generation type after 2012.

So with new orders for the Typhoon and F-22 not on the table in the UAE this week, why are they both here?

The answer is that not only has the UAE attracted the cream of the global aerospace industry to the Middle East this week, but it is also playing host to a major multinational exercise involving fighter assets from four nations.

In addition to the RAF and the USAF, the UAE air force is also exercising with military aircraft from France and Pakistan, with the manoeuvres being conducted from Al Dhafra, near Abu Dhabi.

The Typhoon on show is drawn from the RAF's 3 Sqn, based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire. The service has sent six of its aircraft to participate in the advanced tactical leadership course in the UAE. The unit also recently sent four aircraft to the Falkland Islands to begin providing air defence duties for the territory.