Procurement: Desert Wings


February 25, 2009: The UAE (United Arab Emirates) is buying ten U.S. C-103J and four C-17 transports, as part of its military buildup. The UAE wants to develop adequate defenses against Iranian aggression.

The C-130J transport, the latest version, proved to be more than just another model of the fifty year old C-130 design. Mainly because the C-130J is cheaper and easier to use. Like most new commercial transports, the C-130 emphasizes saving money. The new engines generate 29 percent more thrust while using 15 percent less fuel. Increased automation reduced crew size from four to three. The C-130J is more reliable and easier to maintain. So far, C-130Js have cost nearly twenty percent less per hour to operate than previous models.

The C-130J, has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C-130H it replaces, and can carry 20 tons of cargo. A stretched version of the C-130J can carry more bulky cargo, but cost $95 million each. The C-130 has been in service for over half a century, and is used by over 50 countries.

The C-17 is a four engine jet that can carry four times as much tonnage as the C-130J and, at $220 million each, costs about four times as much. It's 25 percent faster and can cross oceans without refueling. The C-130J, however, can easily reach anywhere within the Middle East from the Persian Gulf.

Because of demand for the C-130J, the UAE will not begin receiving its aircraft for at least two years. The first C-17 should arrive at about the same time. The UAE uses its transports for peacekeeping and humanitarian work, as well as for supporting its military operations.