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10 December 2023

Italy's Alenia wins UAE's aircraft deal

Major-General Obaid Al Ketbi Erik Arazas (SUPPLIED)

By Nissar Hoath

Italy's Alenia Aermacchi has secured one of the top UAE defence contracts to supply the UAE Air Force with 48 advanced training aircraft, a spokesman of the UAE Armed Forces announced at the ninth International Defence Exhibition and Conference yesterday.

The UAE Air Force selected Alenia's M-346 training jets. Alenia was among three competitors bidding for the contract. The three shortlisted bidders were Korean Airspace Industry for its T-50 jet, Alenia for its M-346 and British BAE Systems for its Hawk-128.

Briefing the media at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference, Major-General Obaid Al Ketbi, said the contract for purchasing the 48 advance aircraft has been awarded to Alenia following extensive studies and evaluations on several aircraft.

"The strategy of the UAE Armed Forces mandates the development of the country's air force and the defence in several aspects, including the development of a comprehensive fighter pilot training programme that is compatible with the fourth generation aircraft," he told a press briefing. Al Ketbi said over the past three years, the UAE Armed Forces has carried out extensive studies and evaluations on several aircraft, resulting in choosing Italian Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 to complement as the fully integrated and comprehensive training jet.

"M-346 has been chosen for this advanced training system. Alenia Aermacchi will supply the UAE Air Force and its air defence with 48 aircraft to cover the requirements of fighter training along with combat air support role," he said.

About the total value of the contract and aircraft delivery time-frame, Al Ketbi said it was too early to disclose these details. "We are negotiating different aspects of the contract and when the time comes, we will announce the value of the purchase and date of the first delivery," he said.

Al Ketbi also announced the Armed Forces' deals concluded on the fourth day of the Idex. He said the Armed Forces concluded six deals yesterday with a total value of Dh1.47 billion, amounting to a total of Dh17.5 billion worth of contracts signed during the past three days.

Outlining yesterday's deals, Al Ketbi said they concluded a Dh1.071 billion contract with Provincial Aerospace of Canada for upgrading two aircraft type DHC-8 Q300 in order to turn them to maritime patrol aircraft.

Another deal for upgrading and arming RG31 machines also went to a Canadian firm with a value of Dh111.9m. He said the contract was secured by Canada's General Dynamic to modify, upgrade and arm the RG31 machines. Al Ketbi said the Armed Forces also signed a deal to acquire an Artillery Observation System, and the contract with a value of Dh32.6m went to Vectronix AG of Switzerland.

A contract was signed with Germany's Rheimentall to supply 18 guns (type 27MM Rheimentall) with a total value of Dh191.6m. Another contract was signed with Fats Caswell of the US to purchase training simulators for training on light weaponry with a value of Dh17.6 million.

The sixth contract went to an Emirati company to provide technical support to various military equipment. The Dh46.4m deal was awarded to Emirates Marine Technology.