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United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence
United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
UAE's first C-17 is pictured during a test flight at Boeing's Long Beach plant, the aircraft is wearing a temporary registration number.

Members of the UAE Air Force celebrate before flying their first of six C-17 purchased by the country. 

Boeing begins delivery of C-17 transports to the UAE
By Kristopher Hanson Staff Writer / dailybreeze.com

05/10/2011 Boeing delivered the first of six C-17 cargo jets Tuesday to the United Arab Emirates in a multibillion-dollar deal supporting the aircraft's production line in Long Beach. The UAE, a small, oil-rich nation bordering the Arabian Gulf, plans to use its fleet largely for humanitarian relief missions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.


Designed to carry troops and heavy military equipment like armored vehicles and tanks, the huge jet has taken on an increasing role in delivering food, water, medicine and other aid to disaster zones across the globe. Most recently, C-17s owned by the United States, Australia and Canada came to the aid of Japan in the wake of that country's devastating earthquake and tsunami, which left tens of thousands homeless. Other C-17s have airlifted critical supplies, personnel and even field hospitals to disaster zones in Haiti, New Zealand,  Chile and Pakistan in the past year.


"It is with great pride that we accept delivery of our first C-17, which will help expand our ability to perform humanitarian and strategic-lift missions in the region and around the world," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Suwaidan Saeed Al Qamzi, a UAE Air Force pilot and commander of the nation's Air Defence. "The C-17's advanced capabilities, high reliability, and mission readiness rate met all of our requirements."


The UAE becomes the C-17's sixth international customer, after the U.K., Canada, Australia, Qatar and a NATO-led force based in Hungary. The U.S. Air Force also operates 210 C-17s across the world.


California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who visited Long Beach for the delivery, said Boeing's production line, the last such facility in the state, supports nearly 5,000 jobs in the city and more than 30,000 at parts manufacturers across America. "C-17s are seen in the skies over California and around the world delivering humanitarian aid to those in need, even to the most remote runways in the world," Newsom said. "My hope and mission is to make sure that we keep this capability alive and keep this production line rolling."


Boeing will deliver three more C-17s to the UAE by July, with two more scheduled for production in 2012. Details of the six-jet deal were not released, but C-17s cost about $250 million each, not including a warranty-type package sold with most jets that includes logistical support, spare parts and on-site repairs.


Prized for its ability to take off and land on unpaved runways as short as 3,000 feet, the jet is equipped with anti-missile defenses, can operate on bio-fuels and fly 2,400 nautical miles without refueling. In recent years, the jet has also been equipped with gear that allows it to be turned into a flying emergency unit capable of transporting up to 12 critically injured or sick patients.


In April, a Qatari Air Force C-17 was used to ferry 15 seriously injured fighters from outside the eastern Libyan city of Brega, where revolutionaries were injured in the long-running battle to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Other missions have spirited injured men and women from battle zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The latest delivery from Boeing's sprawling plant next to Long Beach Airport comes as India finalizes a 10-jet deal worth an estimated $5.8 billion and expected to help keep production going through 2013. Kuwait also has ordered one C-17, Qatar is considering three more and several other nations are in talks for purchases that may sustain production and Boeing's nearly 5,000 local workers well into mid-decade.

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