To Strengthen Its Military Fleet, UAE Cooperates With South Korea


To Strengthen Its Military Fleet, UAE Cooperates With South Korea
UAE navy officers are briefed on unmanned surface vessels developed by LIG Nex1 at the Korean firm’s booth at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference held in Abu Dhabi through Feb. 23. (LIG Nex1)

International Military - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is sourcing military hardware from South Korea and China. As is known, the UAE is currently facing a threat from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Therefore, the UAE is also insisting on strengthening its country's military fleet.

In this regard, the UAE has recently turned its attention to the Asian defense industry. However, preferences for Chinese and South Korean equipment appear to be growing.

According to the Eurasian Times, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook recently met his UAE counterpart Mohammad Ahmed Al Bowardi in Seoul. The meeting was used to discuss arms industry collaboration and other related issues, Yonhap Agency Reports. The highlight of the meeting, however, was a visit to Korea Aerospace Industries, 440 km south of Seoul.

The UAE has reportedly expressed interest in South Korea's T-50 trainer jets, KF-21 fighter aircraft, lightly armed helicopters and next-generation helicopter satellite systems.

The meeting is significant because it comes two months after the UAE signed a preliminary agreement to purchase a medium-to-air surface missile (M-SAM) system from South Korea.

The Cheongung II M-Sam is a key component of South Korea's anti-missile defense system. Suh thanked the UAE Minister of State for defense for the decision.

Later, he also promised that South Korea would continue to assist the UAE military in acquiring related operational capabilities. Furthermore, Al Bowardi praised the capabilities of South Korea's defense industry. He reiterated that cooperation in the arms sector is a high priority in the two countries' unique strategic alliance.

This could indicate that the UAE anticipates signing additional arms with South Korea in the future. This is because the demand to strengthen operational capabilities is growing in response to Houthi rebel attacks on key infrastructure.

The meeting came two months after the UAE signed an initial agreement to acquire South Korea's medium-range surface-to-air missile (M-SAM) system.

Historically, the UAE Air Force drew its weapons from two sources, two historic partners, Europe (in particular France) and the US. The UAE is currently in the process of upgrading its fighter aircraft fleet, which is first turning to its traditional sources.

The Dassault Rafale was selected to replace the Mirage 2000-9, which would acquire about 80 aircraft. And for the replacement of the F-16 block 60, it was intended to incorporate the Lockheed Martin F-35A. However, the US reluctance to complete the sale of the stealth fighter forced Emirates to look for alternatives.

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