The United Arab Emirates’ air and air defense force has been quietly supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan.
The UAE military has deployed tactical unmanned aircraft to Afghanistan to work with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, says Royal Air Force Air Marshal Stephen Dalton. The UAV is currently operational in Helmand Province, working with the British military, Dalton revealed at the Dubai Air Chiefs Conference today.
The specific UAV type wasn’t disclosed, but Dalton says it was a ScanEagle-sized vehicle, although not the Boeing UAV specifically.
Dalton heralded the deployment as a sign of what contributions even non-NATO allies can make when they ensure their systems are interoperable with allies.
The deployment fits in with a broader relationship with U.K. and UAE have, with U.K. officers also in the UAE’s Air Warfare Center.
Dalton says he’s keen to keep the relationship healthy through exercises. And despite the heavy tasking on British forces, he’s hoping to extend an invitation to Gulf Cooperation Council forces for training opportunities in the U.K. in the next 12-18 months.