UAE to equip A330 MRTT fleet with Israeli self-protection systems

Elbit Systems has announced that its United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based subsidiary, Elbit Systems Emirates, will supply Israeli-developed airborne self-protection systems for the UAE Air Force and Air Defence’s (UAEAF&AD’s) five-strong Airbus A330-243MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) fleet.

The contract – which was announced on January 3 – is worth approximately $53m and will be carried out over a five-year period. Under the terms of the deal, the UAEAF&AD’s A330-243MRTT fleet will receive Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) and airborne electronic warfare (EW) systems from Elbit Systems Emirates.

UAE A330-243MRTT and Mirage 2000 flypast at Dubai Airshow 2021 [Airbus/Jean-Vincent Reymondon]
An unmarked UAE-operated Airbus A330-243MRTT conducts a flypast with a UAEAF&AD Dassault Mirage 2000-9 during the opening day of the Dubai Airshow in November 2021. The UAEAF&AD's A330-243MRTT fleet will be fitted with Elbit Systems-developed DIRCM and airborne EW systems over the next five years. Airbus/Jean-Vincent Reymondon

Elbit’s UAE-based subsidiary will deliver a multi-turret configuration of its J-MUSIC (Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasures) self-protection system to the UAEAF&AD, together with the company’s infrared-based Passive Airborne Warning System (PAWS). The Israeli firm states that these systems will provide “high levels of protection and redundancy.”

“The company’s DIRCM systems have accumulated more than 350,000 operational flight hours to date and are installed on board more than 25 types of aircraft. The company is witnessing a growing demand for this type of self-protection capabilities in light of the rising threat that aircraft face from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles,” Elbit added.

Elbit launched the new UAE-based subsidiary during the Dubai Airshow in November 2021. The firm states that it “views the UAE as an important market and believes that this contract award further highlights the technological advantage and maturity of the solutions offered by the company in this field.”

The UAEAF&AD initially ordered three A330-243MRTTs from Airbus on February 23, 2008, with the first aircraft being delivered in February 2013. The UAE announced plans to procure three additional examples in November 2019 – two of which were officially ordered on November 14, 2021, during the first day of the Dubai Airshow. Deliveries are set to commence in 2024.