Dubai Airshow: 'UAE has the best F-16 in the world'
UAE signed a Dh76 million agreement with Lockheed Martin.
American defence giant Lockheed Martin described the UAE's F-16, Block 60, fighters jets as "the best in the world," praising the 40-year "strong partnership" with the country.
Block 60 is considered the most advanced operational F-16 produced so far and has features developed specifically for the UAE Air Force.
The UAE announced Monday at the Dubai Airshow signing a Dh76 million agreement with Lockheed Martin for the purchase and maintenance of equipment for its F-16s.
"The UAE owns the best F-16 in the world: Block 60 ... if you look at Thaad [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense], the UAE is the only country outside the US that owns the defence system," Bob Harward, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Middle East told Wam.
"Also, if you look at the [UAE] Joint Aviation Command and Lockheed Martin-built Romeo [Helicopters], we have a longstanding partnership with the UAE for 40 years now and we are participating every year at the Airshow.
"The strength of this partnership stems from the breadth of Lockheed Martin's products; we have products that fit our partners' needs and meet their national security concerns.
"You will see all these products from helicopters to F-16s to missiles ... we are working to enhance the UAE's defence capabilities," he added.
The Chief Executive of the company that is also specialised in aerospace and advanced technologies services revealed that it is collaborating with the UAE Space Agency, but did not give further details.
"Now you have an astronaut!" he said. "We are working with the UAE Space Agency to address their needs and we have submitted two proposals to them."
The former US Navy seal talked about his company's contribution in grooming a generation of Emirati pilots who would serve at the UAE Air Force.
"We, first and foremost, invest in the people of the UAE; we have an intern programme where we bring students from different universities together, from different specialisations, including science, engineering, technology and math," he said.
"The programme is now focused on the control and command system that the UAE Air Force has. These interns could be employed by the Air Force in the future."
On the current global and regional geopolitical tension, Harward said, "We are all struggling with hybrid warfare. We have seen for two decades that we have been in conflict with unknown competitors; those who are trying to blend in the environment. We have built-in capabilities that can fight and defend ourselves against these threats."
"However," he continued, "partnership is critical to prevent attacks like those on Aramco recently. Partnerships are critical not only in building defence capabilities and infrastructure, but also in defending and protecting ourselves. So, the core for those is to have strong partnerships in the industry and the military."
He described the demand for defence capabilities in the Middle East in the last six years as "consistent."
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