The UAE Air Force will receive the first of three new Airbus military transporter planes by the end of the year.
A military version of the Airbus A330 passenger airliner, the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), is designed as both a transport and an air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
Having ordered three MRTT planes in early 2008, the UAE will receive the first of them in December, Didier Vernet, the head of market development at Airbus, said yesterday.
The UAE is one of four countries to have ordered the new type of transporter, along with Australia, the UK and Saudi Arabia. The planes will be used to strengthen the UAE's homeland defences and increase its role in regional security and humanitarian relief.
Waha Capital, an Abu Dhabi finance company with interests in aviation leasing and property development, last year closed financing deals worth Dh6.7 billion (US$1.82bn) from a syndicate of international banks to buy nine military aircraft for the UAE Armed Forces.
This deal included finance for the purchase of the A330 MRTT planes. The Royal Australian Air Force will receive delivery of the first plane, which is now in final testing, in the next six months.
The UK has ordered 14 planes and Saudi Arabia six. They are due for delivery next year.
Mr Vernet said Airbus had received more "big interest" in the region for the new aircraft.
"We are in discussions with many parties here," he said. "But there are no more planes on order."
Airbus Military is testing four MRRT planes and is converting three A330 passenger aircraft. The company said it had also received strong interest from Middle East buyers for its A400M transporter plane.