UAE and US Joint Military Training
Flying 85 of the world’s most technologically advanced F-16 aircraft — the Block 60 — the UAE Air Force cooperates regularly with its US counterparts on both training and operational missions.
Called the “Desert Falcons” and manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas, the UAE Air Force’s F-16s are specifically developed for the Arabian Gulf theater and designed to enhance interoperability with the US and other NATO allies.
In 2011, the UAE Air Force’s Desert Falcons participated in combat missions alongside US forces during Operation Unified Protector, the NATO mission to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. Currently, the UAE Air Force’s Desert Falcons are being used to support the ongoing, multinational operation to combat ISIL.
In order to enhance combat readiness and communication with allies, UAE Air Force F-16 pilots regularly participate in the annual “Red Flag” aerial combat exercise hosted by the US Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Because this exercise is exceptionally challenging, pilots who participate in Red Flag must have superior training and skills. To prepare for Red Flag and combat missions, UAE Air Force pilots train regularly with their US counterparts at the Joint Warfare Center at Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, as well as with the 148th Fighter Squadron of the Arizona Air National Guard.