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US approves more surplus MRAPs for UAE

The US State Department has approved for the second time in six years the sale of 4,569 surplus mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

UAE-backed Yemeni forces are seen at Al-Anad Air Base in southern Yemen on 4 August 2015, soon after it was captured from Houthi rebels. The flag on the Oshkosh M-ATV is that of the defunct People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, indicating the fighters are southern separatists who are not loyal to the internationally recognised government.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 7 May that the vehicles would include unspecified numbers of Navistar MaxxPros, BAE Systems Caimans, and Oshkosh M-ATVs that would be taken from US Army stocks as excess defence articles (EDAs). The programme is estimated to be worth USD556 million.

“The UAE intends to utilise the MRAP vehicles to increase force protection, to conduct humanitarian assistance operations, and to protect critical infrastructure,” it said.

The DSCA announced the sale of exactly the same number of MaxxPro, Caiman, and M-ATV MRAPs to the UAE in September 2014. That notification gave a precise breakdown of the number and types of vehicles involved and said the programme was estimated to be worth USD2.5 billion.

The DSCA’s EDA database, which has not been updated since 2018, shows at least 815 surplus MaxxPros were delivered to the UAE.

The US Department of Defense announced in February 2017 that it had awarded a USD440 million contract to Navistar Defense to “reset and upgrade” 1,085 surplus MaxxPro for the UAE.

Southern Yemeni forces that are backed by the UAE have been seen operating MaxxPro, Caiman, and M-ATV vehicles. Saudi-backed Yemeni forces have also been seen with US-made equipment.

In February 2019 General Joseph Votel, the then-commander of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US had not authorised the UAE or Saudi Arabia to transfer US-made equipment to Yemeni forces.

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