UAE Selects Basic Trainer and “Interim” AEW&C Aircraft

 - November 20, 2009, 9:25 AM

Breaking with a tradition that has seen major military procurements signed and announced only in Abu Dhabi, the UAE government sealed deals for new training and AEW&C aircraft during the Dubai Airshow this month. Pilatus secured the new basic trainer, an order for 25 PC-21s worth $521 million, to also include several training simulators with all systems and services. Saab received an order for what seems to be an interim AEW&C requirement.

The PC-21s will replace PC-7s as part of a complete revamp of pilot training by the UAE Air Force. Suppliers of ground-based training systems (GBTS), such as Bombardier and KBR, were expecting the UAE to issue a request for proposals, but it now seems that they may have to subcontract via Pilatus. During a presentation at the Air Chiefs Conference in Dubai, UAE Air Force Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Naser Alalawi emphasized that a new GBTS is an integral part of the pilot training revamp. Ibrahim said that the UAE would implement the new training system by 2012, in which case the need to select a GBTS is becoming urgent, according to suppliers who spoke with AIN.

The UAE’s order with Saab for an apparent interim AEW&C requirement is for two EriEye systems using a Saab 340 platform. “The UAE is currently evaluating several options to purchase permanent-solution command and early warning aircraft,” said an official statement. Saab’s order is valued at $223 million.