For a cost of about AED6 billion ($1.6 billion), the UAE will upgrade its fleet of 80 Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60 fighters—a deal that was by far the biggest among a slew of spares, support and upgrade announcements made at the 2017 Dubai Airshow on November 12 by two officers from the Defence Industry and Capability Development Office of the UAE Ministry of Defence. The other 10 deals were worth approximately AED500 million ($136 million).
Included in the F-16 contract were spares and support, as well as a modernization that will include a new processor. The UAE received its F-16s in 2004, having paid for development of the unique Block 60 version. They featured a Northrop Grumman APG-80 AESA radar, conformal fuel tanks as standard, an integrated Northrop Grumman electronic warfare system and a MIL-STD 1773 databus.
“The UAE Air Force flies the most advanced fourth-generation fighter in the world—the F-16 Block 60 'Desert Falcon,'" according to Lockheed Martin. "This is yet another step forward in our partnership to enhance UAE national security and air defense capabilities.”
Other contracts announced at Dubai 2017 include Abu Dhabi Aviation Co. (ADAC) for maintenance and pilot training on AW139 helicopters and another for “air transportation support”; Advanced Navigation and Positioning Support, Transportable Transponder Landing System (TTLS); Global Aerospace, air defense systems technical support; Insitu, logistics support of Scan Eagle UAVs already delivered; Leonardo, modernization of VIP AB139 helicopters; Ordnance Technologies, fuzes for BLU-109 hard-target bombs; and Thales Communications and Security, spares and support of a secure communications systemsand another to Thales Advanced Solutions for cockpit modernizations and GATR radios.