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UAE displays new UAVs

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Malaysia's king Al-Sultan Abdullah inspect unidentified UAVs at the end of Exercise ‘Desert Tiger 6'. The detla-wing type's engine is obscured by the wing of a larger UAV, probably a Wing Loong II. (National Palace of Malaysia)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have not previously been seen in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including what appeared to be a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2, were seen in coverage of an exercise the Emirati and Malaysian armed forces held at the end of February.

After watching the conclusion of Exercise ‘Desert Tiger 6' at the Al-Hamra Combat Training Centre in the west of Abu Dhabi on 27 February, UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Malaysia's king Al-Sultan Abdullah were shown an exhibition of military equipment that included several land systems labelled as Emirati developments.

The UAVs were not seen clearly, but a video released by the UAE Ministry of Defence showed they included what appeared to be a Chinese-made Wing Loong II, which is known to be in Emirati service, and a Bayraktar TB2, which has a distinctive twin-boom, inverted v-tail configuration. The Emirati defence company Edge is developing a similar UAV called the Reach-S, but this has a larger air intake above its engine.

The UAV's presence appeared to corroborate a report published by Reuters in September 2022, which cited an unidentified Turkish source as saying 20 Bayraktar TB2s were delivered to the UAE earlier that month. A senior Turkish official confirmed that some UAVs had been delivered to the UAE and that Abu Dhabi wanted more, without naming the model.

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