The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of equipment in support of a direct commercial sale of F-16 Block 61 Fighting Falcon aircraft and associated equipment to UAE. Under the estimated $270m sale, the UAE has requested for the supply of equipment in support of its commercial purchase of 30 F-16 Block 61 aircraft and also the upgrade of its existing F-16 Block 60 fleet. Major defence equipment includes 40 20mm M61A guns, 40 embedded GPS inertial navigation systems, alongside identification friend-or-foe (IFF) equipment, joint mission planning system, night vision devices, cartridge activated device/propellant activated devices and weapons integration. The package also includes spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, international engine management programme-component improvement programme, repair and return, aerial refuelling support, technical and logistics support services, as well as other related elements of logistics and programme support. Expected to improve the UAE’s capability to meet existing and future regional threats, the potential sale also contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the US by improving the security of a friendly country that continues to serve as an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.
The UAE continues host-nation support of vital US forces stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, and has proven to be a valued partner and an active participant in overseas contingency missions. The sale of additional F-16 fighters to the UAE is consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics will serve as prime contractor for the FMS programme. Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F-100-GE-129 turbofan engine, the F-16 was initially designed as an air superiority day fighter, but later evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft for accurate delivery of ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.
Image: A UAE Air Force’s F-16 Block 60 aircraft taking off from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in the US. Photo: courtesy of David Raykovitz.