As organizers made last minute preparations last evening for the official start of the Dubai Air Show tomorrow (Nov 17) some of the first aircraft were positioned in the static park. They included some rare and unusual sights, and at least one significant surprise to seasoned defense watchers of the region.
A Cessna C208 operated by United Arab Emirates ‘Group 18’ Special Operations Command. The aircraft is armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and its appearance at the event was unexpected.United Arab Emirates-operated Air Tractor AT-802U counter-insurgency aircraft. The aircraft is configured with a reinforced wing spar and hardpoints under the wings and fuselage for up to 8,000 lb. of weapons and sensors. Optional loads include 500 lb. Mk 82 bombs or GBU12 laser-guided bombs, GAU-19/A three-barrel 12.7mm gun pods, M260 seven-round rocket launchers, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or DAGR laser-guided rockets.
While the U.S. military presence at air shows has become virtually non-existent back at home because of the impact of sequestration, the sizable delegation of military hardware at the Dubai air show is something of a surprise. The ensemble includes a single F-22, four V-22 Ospreys, B-1B, AH-1Z and UH-1Y (both appearing at Dubai for the first time) as well as F/A-18 Super Hornets and – making its international air show debut – a Boeing P-8A. The C-17 seen here is a UAE-operated example.
With the CSeries now in flight test, Bombardier is hoping for good news with a possible Qatar Airways commitment at Dubai. The company has an Ethiopian Airlines Q400NG turboprop on display along with a Global 6000 business jet at the exhibition.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also on display, including a selection from the UAE-based Adcom Systems Group. They include the medium-altitude, long-endurance Yabon United 40 UAV, an alternate turbofan-powered concept and a high speed target drone.