DUBAI AIR SHOW NEWS: F-35 Makes Dubai Air Show Debut

By Connie Lee
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II performs an aerial demonstration at the Dubai Airshow.

Photo: Air Force

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — One of the world's most talked-about fighter jets made its Dubai Air Show debut this week. 

Having flown in from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the F-35 joint strike fighter made an appearance each afternoon during the show's aerial demonstrations. The plane was not on static display during the event. The Dubai debut came two years after the aircraft flew in an international air show for the first time in Paris.

The fifth-generation fighter is being developed and procured by the U.S Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. About 10 international allies are also participating in the program as suppliers or foreign military sales customers. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the platform.

According to the Air Force, the United States brought in two F-35As — the conventional take-off and landing variant — to the show. The systems arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, Dubai, Nov. 16. 

News on the fifth-generation aircraft has been relatively quiet during the event, but Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord acknowledged to reporters prior to the show that potential F-35 sales to the UAE have not been discussed during any classified briefings thus far. Additionally, it was not a planned topic of discussion during the week. 

Instead, the UAE is focusing on modernizing its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, she noted. During the event, the Emirati Ministry of Defence awarded the company a $145 million contract for F-16 simulators. 

Other significant events during the show include the UAE’s announcement of its intention to purchase additional GlobalEye early warning aircraft and a $618 million agreement for Calidus’ light-attack plane. The Calidus buy marked the Emirates’ first contract for domestically-produced aircraft for its military. 

Meanwhile in the United States, the Defense Department has been making big announcements about the F-35 in recent months. In October Lord revealed a $34 billion contract with Lockheed Martin for low-rate initial production Lots 12 through 14, a deal that includes the delivery of 478 joint strike fighters in total. 


Topics: Air Power, Aviation, Global Defense Market, International

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