Eight heavy transport aircraft belonging to UAE landed in Israel in past two weeks

It is unclear why the heavy transport aircraft were in Israel though it is believed that the aircraft likely were transporting equipment related to defense contracts signed between the two countries.

 C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircraft (photo credit: DAVID WEINRICH)
C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircraft
(photo credit: DAVID WEINRICH)

At least eight C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircraft belonging to the United Arab Emirates Air Force have landed in Israel over the past two weeks.

The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine, heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads of 164,900 pounds, fly 2,400 nautical miles and land on runways of 3,000 feet or less on a small airfield.

All the aircraft landed at Israel Air Force’s Nevatim airbase in southern Israel and took off about an hour after landing.

It is unclear why the heavy transport aircraft were in Israel though it is believed that they were likely transporting equipment related to defense contracts signed between the two countries.

Earlier in April, Sibat, the military exports unit of the Defense Ministry, said military exports by Israel brought in $11.2 billion last year, with 7% of that to Arab countries who have signed the Abraham Accords.

Elbit Systems Howitzer gun (credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)Elbit Systems Howitzer gun (credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and in recent months has been attacked by them several times with missiles and drones. 

Israel has offered support to the Emirates against such attacks. Following a January missile and drone attack that killed three people in Abu Dhabi, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he “ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance” that could help to protect against future attacks.

Both Israel and the UAE have worked together covertly for years against Iran’s hegemony and, according to foreign reports, have behind closed doors improved their intelligence-sharing and military relations in order to be prepared for Iranian threats.

Following the normalization agreement signed as part of the Abraham Accords, the UAE’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Mohammed al-Bawardi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed to establish security ties between the two countries.

In January, Elbit Systems’s subsidiary in the Emirates was awarded a contract to supply airborne defense systems for the UAE Air Force tanker aircraft.

The contract, worth approximately $53 million, will see the subsidy Elbit Systems Emirates supply Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) and airborne Electronic Warfare (EW) systems for the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft of the UAE Air Force.

The Head of SIBAT, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yair Kulas, said recently that the ministry is working with security industries in Israel to ensure the continued increase in defense cooperation with Arab countries that have normalized ties with the Jewish state.

“Looking ahead, shifting global priorities and partnerships such as the Abraham Accords create high demand for Israel’s cutting-edge technological systems,” he said, adding that the number of contracts signed with Arab countries will continue to increase and will likely reach the double digits.

“If we look realistically at the coming years, there is great market potential and, with cautious assessment, we expect to reach double-digits in the countries who signed the Abraham agreements in the coming years,” Kulas said.