UAE ups C-17 order to six aircraft, from four

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The United Arab Emirates has unexpectedly increased the size of its order for the Boeing C-17 by signing a deal to buy six of the strategic transports.

The UAE in February 2009 announced its intention to buy four C-17s, along with 12 smaller Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports, with the combined airlift investment to be worth an estimated $3 billion.

Boeing says the UAE air force and air defence on 6 January signed a contract for six C-17s, with four to be delivered in 2011 and the remainder to follow during 2012. "Financial terms are not being disclosed," it adds, but confirms that the fleet will be operated within the company's C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership framework.

The UAE air force says the introduction of the C-17 will give the service "the ability to perform a variety of humanitarian and strategic lift operations around the world, in support of both national and international missions".

Two C-17s are already in service with Boeing's first Middle Eastern customer for the type, following their delivery to Qatar last year. The type is also in service with the air forces of Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA, plus with a consortium of 12 NATO and Partnership for Peace states.