Spending on new military aircraft falls in Gulf amid low oil prices: Report

The UAE's Air Force acrobatics team performs during the "Union Fortress 6" military parade. (File photo: Reuters)

Air force procurement budgets in the Gulf region fell 9 percent in 2019, but will increase in the next two years, Jane’s by IHS Markit said in a report on Thursday.

“The decline … since 2014 can be attributed to the drop in oil price … but also to a number of major procurement programs having been signed off,” said Charles Forrester, principal analyst for manned and unmanned aeroengines at Jane’s by IHS Markit.

Procurement budgets fell to $5.8 billion this year, down from a high of $10.1 billion in 2014. However, the number is expected to rise to $6.1 billion in 2020 and 2021.

The changing “threat environment” has reinforced the requirement for surveillance capabilities, the report said.

The fleets of Saudi Arabia and Oman have received a boost from recent deliveries of advanced multirole combat aircraft.

Kuwait and Bahrain are also looking to upgrade their capabilities.

There is a strong need for surveillance “as Iran has become increasingly aggressive,” Forrester said.

Saudi Arabia’s economic and industrial reforms are boosting the Kingdom’s domestic capabilities, while the UAE is at “the cutting edge” of technology and development, according to the report.

On November 5, the UAE consolidated more than 25 state-owned and private companies in the country’s defense sector to form EDGE.

Forrester believes the initiative will turn the Gulf country into a “regional research and development investor and powerhouse.”

The report comes ahead of the Dubai Air Show, where a large number of defense deals are expected to be signed.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56