Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 11:24 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 11:24 | SYDNEY

UAE gets big lift from cargo planes


Rodger Shanahan


12 January 2010 10:33

Sam asked why a small country like the UAE needs the services of six (although other reports say four) C-17 strategic airlift aircraft. What could they possibly be used for?

In the absence of any strategic planning document such as a White Paper, besieged by international arms manufacturers seeking to recycle petrodollars back to their home economies, and always keen for the prestige of operating advanced military equipment, the equipment decisions made by Gulf military forces are not always made in a measured or logical manner.

That said, there is some justification for integral strategic lift. Since the 1990s the UAE has been quite active in deploying forces overseas. It has deployed a battalion to Somalia as part of the UN force in 1993, an armoured battle group (including Apache helicopters) to Kosovo from 1999, a military medical task force to Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake and a special forces group to Afghanistan.
In addition, UAE aid to regional neighbours has on occasion necessitated heavy lift. During the 2007 fighting at Nahr al-Barid refugee camp in Lebanon, the UAE donated nine Gazelle helicopters to the Lebanese Air Force that were pressed into service almost immediately on arrival. The UAE aso gifted ten Puma trooplift helicopters to Lebanon last year. 

Similar civilian or military aid missions are likely to be conducted in the future and, while the UAE is more than financially capable of contracting out such heavy lift requirements, the purchase of C-17s provides it with transport self-sufficiency and the regional status this brings.

Photo by Flickr user Ozone9999, Duke and Sarge, used under a Creative Commons license.