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Published on Apr 22, 2011
The U.A.E. Armed Forces, consisting of 50,000 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.
Although small in number, the U.A.E. armed forces are equipped with some of the most modern weapon systems, purchased from a variety of countries. In 2009, the U.A.E. was the largest foreign buyer of U.S. defense equipment. The military has been reducing the number of foreign nationals in its ranks, and its officer corps is composed almost entirely of U.A.E. nationals. The U.A.E. air force has about 4,000 personnel. The Air Force has advanced U.S. F-16 BLOCK 60 multi-role fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 2000-9 fighters, British Hawk trainer aircraft, 36 transport aircraft and U.S. Apache and Black Hawk helicopters. The U.A.E. Navy is small--about 2,500 personnel--and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile boats. Although primarily concerned with coastal defense, the Navy is constructing a six-unit class of blue water corvettes in conjunction with French shipbuilder CMN. The U.A.E.'s Land Forces are equipped with several hundred French LeClerc tanks and a similar number of Russian BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles. The U.A.E. Special Operations Command (SOC) is a small but effective force centered on the counter-terrorism mission within the U.A.E. SOC is well-financed, trained, and equipped and currently has soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, the only Arab personnel undertaking full-scale operations in the country.