China, UAE to hold 1st joint air force drill, eye cooperation boost

Global Times
Lin Congyi
2023-07-31 21:59:22

By Liu Xuanzun

A L-15, a Chinese supersonic training aircraft, rehearses on November 13, 2021 a demonstration flight ahead of the 2021 Dubai Airshow, which is scheduled to be held from November 14-18, 2021. The Dubai Airshow is a biennial international event aimed at business professionals and the wider industry. Photo: VCG

China announced on Monday that its air force will for the first time hold a joint exercise with its counterpart from the UAE, which is expected to further enhance military cooperation after the signing of a warplane deal between the two countries earlier this year, analysts said.

In accordance with an annual schedule and the consensus reached by the two sides, the China-UAE Falcon Shield-2023 joint air force exercise will be held in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in August, China's Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on Monday.

It marks the first time China and the UAE will hold a joint air force exercise, as the move aims to deepen practical exchange and cooperation between the two countries' militaries and boost understanding and mutual trust, said the Chinese Defense Ministry.

The first China-UAE joint air force exercise is a good start to enhance military exchanges and cooperation with countries in the Middle East, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

The joint exercise is a natural development after the UAE procured Chinese military aircraft earlier this year, marking the deepening of the relations between the two countries' militaries, Fu said.

In February, China announced that it had sealed a deal to export the domestically developed L15 advanced trainer jet to the UAE. In 2022, the Defense Ministry of the UAE said it intended to buy 12 L15s from China, with the option for 36 additional aircraft of the same type in the future.

As the new generation of light attack and combat trainer jet independently developed by China, the L15 can be used to train pilots for fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets, or it can also carry out air-to-air combat and land attack missions. The Chinese People's Liberation Army also fly the L15 under the designation JL-10.

As military ties between China and the UAE continue to develop, there could be more joint exercises and arms deals, analysts said.

The air force of the UAE is coming to China for the first joint exercise, and the air force of China could visit the UAE for the next, Fu said.

China is not planning to fill the so-called power vacuum left by the US in the Middle East, but is enhancing cooperation with countries in the region, respecting their independent development, and helping safeguard regional peace and stability, Fu said.

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