The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is building up its Viper fleet. The Pentagon has asked US Congress on 24 January 2014 to okay the sale of 30 Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 61 fighters to the Emirates and the upgrade its existing 79 Block 60 Fighting Falcons.
The sale will include 40 20mm M61A Guns, 40 Embedded GPS Inertial Navigation Systems, joint mission planning systems and night vision devices.
Military policy makers emphasize the United Arab Emirates is host nation of US forces based at Al Dhafra Air Base and is a key player for US military operations in the area. Therefore it is likely that Congress will give the green light.
The UAE Foreign Military Sale request Block 61 F-16s comes only a month after British Aerospace saw its possible deal for the Eurofighter Typhoon collapse. The desert emirate is still looking for a fifth generation fighter, with the French Dassault Rafale having better odds now.
With its Block 60 Fighting Falcons the UAE Air Force already flies the most advanced F-16 there is. Even the Americans don’t have it within their own military. But the aircraft’s base design is from a fourth generation of fighter jet that started development in the 1970s. On 20 January 2014 it was exactly 40 years since the prototype YF-16 got airborne for the first time.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with initial source information from DSCA
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