IndraStra Global Editorial Team
Image Attribute: Sukhoi Design Bureau – Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E 901
On Feb 23, according to Aviation International News, it was revealed by Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov that the Russia and the United Arab Emirates would jointly develop a fifth-generation light fighter based on the MiG-29 platform which will be apparently an advanced version of the same. He also mentioned that the UAE has been engaged in a separate discussion regarding the prospective sale of Sukhoi Su-35s.
News of the deal between the Kremlin and the UAE came during the visit of a high-level Russian delegation led by trade and industry minister Denis Manturov at the IDEX 2017 exhibition in Abu Dhabi, amid murmurs that Moscow is closing a similar deal to sell 10 Sukhoi designed Su-35 Flanker-E jets each to Indonesia and China.
The signing ceremony between Russia and the UAE covering cooperation in the defense industries was witnessed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, which itself signifies the importance of the deal at the first place.
According to Manturov, “One of the fields of this cooperation is the creation, development, and supply of the fifth-generation fighter jet.” The work on this joint light fighter aircraft is to start as early as 2018 and it would be built in the UAE. Another deal was struck in which Middle East investors aim to acquire a minority stake in Russian Helicopters.
Earlier, UAE has purchased Russian ground weapon systems, such as BMP-3 infantry combat vehicles and Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems. But, the sale of Flanker-E along with joint light fighter development program indicates towards a big step on the way of developing military cooperation between these two countries.
At the current level of cooperation, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) bases it's Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors at Al-Dhafra air base for the ongoing operations over Syria, and the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) have the most advanced version of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in its inventory.
Despite these ties, the U.S. has so far denied access to its fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to UAE – something government officials in the UAE have shown an interest in for several years – and aviation industry insiders say this has led the Emirates to look toward Russia as the last option to fulfill its own aerospace ambition.
This kind of deals like the similar ones across the globe highlights Russia’s growing use of its defense industry as a geopolitical tool on the diplomatic stage in a very proactive manner and directly wooing those countries which are having longstanding ties to the United States.