The United Arab Emirates has taken delivery of its first C-17 strategic transport during a ceremony at Boeing's Long Beach final assembly site in California.

Accepted on 10 May, the first of six C-17s on order for the UAE air force and air defence is pictured carrying the tail number 1223.

UAE air force and air defence commander Maj Gen Mohammed bin Suwaidan Saeed Al Qamzi said the new aircraft will help the service to expand its "ability to perform humanitarian and strategic-lift missions in the [Middle East] region and around the world. The C-17's advanced capabilities, high reliability and mission readiness rate met all of our requirements," he added.

 UAE C-17 ceremony - Boeing
All images © Boeing

Deliveries will quickly ramp up under the UAE's January 2010 production order for the C-17, with the second aircraft already having been completed and painted. The first four will have been accepted by the end of this year, with the remaining two to follow in 2012, according to Boeing. The company will provide in-service support for the fleet via its Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership programme.

 UAE C-17 pass - Boeing

UAE C-17 - Boeing

The UAE will follow regional ally Qatar in introducing the C-17 to operational use. It had also planned to buy 12 Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports as part of its airlift expansion, but has indefinitely postponed the acquisition to focus on other equipment priorities.

Its air force already has five Antonov An-32 transports on order, as listed in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

Source: Flight International