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WASHINGTON, DC (7 July 2010) – Senior government and military officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States (US) participated in the Washington, DC screening of “Desert Falcons,” a documentary film that followed a select group of UAE Air Force F-16 Block 60 pilots and maintenance officers as they prepared to participate in Red Flag, the US Air Force’s most challenging aerial combat training exercise.
For the first time in 2009, the UAE Air Force participated in Red Flag, which takes place at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Called the “Desert Falcon” and flown exclusively by the UAE Air Force, the Block 60 is considered the most advanced F-16 jet in the world. The aircraft are manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas and based at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi. The UAE’s F-16 pilots and crew train closely with their US Air Force counterparts at Al Dhafra and the Arizona Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona.
“Red Flag is considered the toughest – most realistic – air warfare training exercise in the world,” said UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. “The bar is very high for other nations to even be invited to participate in Red Flag. So, this was not only a unique opportunity to enhance the skills and capability of the UAE Air Force, but also a testament to the depth of the UAE and US security and defense relationship.”
The UAE and US share a common resolve to preserve security and stability in the region. In addition to hosting more than 2,000 US military personnel, the UAE also hosts the Joint Air Warfare Center at Al Dhafra, where UAE forces regularly conduct joint training exercises with their US counterparts. More US Navy ships call on Jebel Ali, in Dubai, than any other port outside of the US. According to Ambassador Al Otaiba, the UAE F-16 Block 60 program is a model of the cooperative security relationship between the two countries. “It is a true partnership, involving both governments and the private sector,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba.
The Desert Falcons screening was held simultaneously to a meeting of the UAE-US Defense Strategy and Policy Commission, which included participation from senior UAE government and military officials, including HE Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Staff Major General Mohamed Al Qamzi, Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defense. Senior US government and military officials who attended the Embassy’s event included, Ambassador Richard Olson, US Ambassador to the UAE; Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, US Department of Defense; General James Mattis, Commander, United States Joint Forces Command; and General Michael Colangelo, Commander, Arizona Air National Guard. Robert Stevens, Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin also participated in the event.