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Wednesday, October 13, 2010     GET YOUR INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

UAE eyes role as hub for Western air fleets
in war zones

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates has agreed to host an expanding Western military air fleet that includes NATO and other air operations in the Gulf and Afghanistan.


The Gulf state has provided services for virtually all of the major participants in the NATO stabilization campaign in Afghanistan.

"The UAE sees this as part of its effort to become integrated in a Western security regime in the Gulf," a regional diplomat said.

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The diplomat said the UAE has facilitated the expansion of a Western military air presence over the last two years. He cited operations by Australia, Britain, France and the United States.

Many of the Western air operations have stemmed from the UAE Air Force at Al Minhad. Al Minhad has been used as a hub for the transport of military equipment by U.S. allies from Iraq to Afghanistan.

In 2009, France won UAE agreement to expand the European state's military presence in the Gulf. For its part, Australia has been operating three C-130J air transports at Al Minhad.

The United States was said to have the largest military air presence in the UAE. The U.S. Air Force has been overseeing the modernization of the UAE Air Force as well as training of the advanced F-16 Block 60 multi-role fighter.

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