Major General Abdullah al Hashmi (left), Assistant Undersersetary, Ministry of Defence and Major General pilot Ishaq Saleh al Balousi, Executive Director Defence Industry and Capability Development addressing media. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE Ministry of Defence announced it had signed deals worth Dh6.5 billion on the first day of the Dubai Airshow on Sunday.

The biggest deal was a Dh6 billion contract with US firm Lockheed Martin to upgrade the UAE’s 80F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter jets to the latest standards. The deal includes logistical support and importing of spare parts.

Major General Abdullah Al Hashmi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Ministry of Defence and Executive Director for the Committee of Dubai Airshow, said the ministry had been working on the deal for several months, and further deals would be announced during the course of the air show.

He added that the deals were not related to ongoing conflicts in the region.

“If you go to the history of the Middle East, if you remember any time in the last 30 years there was no conflict, you tell me, I don’t remember,” Al Hashmi said in response to a question at a media conference. “I think we’re always in conflicts.

“But the announcement at Dubai Airshow is based on requirements, not on conflicts.”

He said he was unable to give details of the upgrades to the UAE’s F-16s, and could not confirm the upgrades would bring the fighters to the standards of the advanced “block 61” variant, a request it was rumoured the UAE had made in 2014.


Instead he said the modifications were intended to keep the fighters operational. “Aircraft after certain years get obsolete or they get changed. You need to modify those aircraft and upgrade, and I think most of those changes are … in equipment that is not really manufactured any more. We need to keep the aircraft running, and some equipment is better in operation than it used to be.”

He confirmed that the deal was to upgrade existing UAE fighters and did not involve purchase of new aircraft.

The second largest deal announced on day one was a Dh197 million contract with Abu Dhabi Aviation Company for operating and managing a number of AW139 helicopters for search and rescue missions and medical evacuation, along with pilot training.

Factbox: Ministry of Defence first day deal announcements

Lockheed Martin: Dh6.06 billion for upgrading F-16 fighters and importing spare parts

Abu Dhabi Aviation Company: Dh197 million for operating and managing AW139 helicopters and training pilots

Abu Dhabi Aviation Company: Dh10 million for two years’ support for air transport within the UAE.

Global Airspace Logistics: Dh25 million for technical support for air defence.

Thales Communication and Security: Dh35.1 million for spare parts, logistic support and maintenance of secure aerial communication.

Defence Conseils International Services: Dh8.07 million for logistical support.

Advanced Navigation and Positioning Corp: Dh11 million

Otna Inc: Dh66.1 million for purchase of ammunition.

Insitu Inc: Dh44 million for logistical support for unmanned aircraft.

Agusta Westland Aviation: Dh43.7 million for modernisation of AB139 VIP aircraft.

Thales Advanced Solutions: Dh14.6 million communications and radio maintenance.