Who are Al Fursan, the UAE's knights of the sky?

The Aermacchi jets of the Emirati stunt team are painted black and gold to represent the desert and the oil that lies beneath it

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 26, 2017:    Etihad Airways and Al Fursan flyover during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on November 26, 2017. Christopher Pike / The National

Reporter: John McAuley, Graham Caygill
Section: Sport
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Who are Al Fursan?

The UAE Airforce’s aerobatic display team is called Al Fursan which means The Knights in English. The team flies in a formation of seven Aermacchi MB339A jet trainer aircraft but it has a total of 10 aircraft in the squadron.

You can expect to see them in the skies over the country in the coming days as the country marks major events including Commemoration Day and National Day.

How can you recognise them?

The Al Fursan planes are mainly painted in black and gold to represent the colour of the desert and the oil that lies beneath it. The planes also feature white, red and green and are equipped with smoke generators that produce red, white, black and green smoke to reflect the colours of the UAE flag. There are seven planes to represent each of the emirates.


Read more:

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When did the team form?

Al Fursan began life on January 20, 2010 with a simple fly-by during the graduation ceremony for pilots and air-traffic control students at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College. Four more MB-339s in camouflage paint schemes also flew past using red smoke that day.

Later that year, eight UAE Air Force fighter pilots began an aerobatic formation training course under the supervision of Frecce Tricolori pilots at the Rivolto Air Base in Italy.

The course was completed at the beginning of 2011 and the team made its public debut on November 13 that year during the opening day of the Dubai Air Show.

What about the planes they use?

The Aermacchi MB-339s that Al Fursan use are Italian jet fighters and light attack aircraft. Each plane is valued in the region of $8.3 million and has a maximum speed of 898 km/h. They are also used by the airforce of Eritrea, Italy and Malaysia and are also operated by the American company Draken International, which provides tactical fighter aircrafts.

Where would you have seen them?

The Al Fursan team is a regular feature of major events in the UAE. Only last week Al Fursan performed a flyover at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix with an A380 plane from Etihad Airways. The team has also performed at numerous events including National Day celebrations and air shows across the region.