ABU DHABI // The UAE will pay the US Dh9.2 billion to upgrade its military vehicles to better prepare the country’s protection force.
The US state department said the UAE intended to use the vehicles to conduct humanitarian assistance operations and to protect vital international commercial trade routes as well as critical infrastructure.
“They will enhance the UAE’s burden-sharing capacity and defence capabilities,” a state department official said. “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
He said the deal would be in force for at least three years to provide programme support and training.
The vehicles include more than 4,500 mine-resistant ambush-protected (Mrap) vehicles as well as 1,150 Caiman multiterrain vehicles without armour.
“Mraps are mostly used as a troops transporter,” said Aleksey Yermolayev, the territory manager in the military division of Streit Group, a Dubai-based armoured vehicles manufacturer. “They can also be modified to a large range of specialised vehicles with the use of additional equipment, such as a mobile command control centre, ambulances, rescue vehicles and explosive ordnance disposal vehicles.”
He said the upgrade was important to increase their technical characteristics and survivability. “The training is also important because Mraps are pretty different from simple trucks or normal army vehicles due to their specific design and drivability,” Mr Yermolayev said.
“They might also carry sophisticated equipment on board, so army servicemen should be properly trained by professionals.”
Dr Theodore Karasik, director at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said the upgrades were a necessary requirement to keep the UAE’s defence capabilities at the highest levels of excellence for any possible scenario in the region.
“Upgrading equipment and personnel training is important because the GCC militaries are likely to be more active in the near and medium term around the Middle East and North Africa region in terms of land operations,” he said. “We are already seeing this in air activity with participation in the US-led coalition airstrikes in the Levant.”
Mohammed Javed, quality assurance manager at Chabok Aviation, a Dubai-based provider of aircraft support services and parts to the Middle East, said military forces constantly required upgrades and training to meet evolving challenges.
“This will greatly strengthen the UAE forces to meet any challenge,” he said.
“I would also suggest for them to enhance their in-house capability for manufacturing, research and upgrade of all military equipment and vehicles as well as establishing personal training centres.”