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ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates may be offloading up to 10 Mirage 2000-9s to the Iraqi Air Force in March, according to a UAE government source.

The decision comes after the Dec. 15 visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Abu Dhabi to "discuss mechanisms to enhance cooperation between the two countries and dry up the sources of terrorism."

"The UAE is trying to fortify Iraq's security from north to south, specifically the areas from Baghdad to Erbil," the source said. "Mainly, Erbil because many UAE strategic interests are there with regards to oil and gas investments as well as others."

"During discussions, the UAE offered a batch of upgraded Mirage 2000-9s to Iraq, they are expected to be under 10 aircraft," the source added.

The UAE has 36 multirole Mirage 2000 fighters that have been in service since 1986, 30 of which have been extensively refurbished and then upgraded to the same standard as the newer fleet of 32 Mirage 2000-9s delivered starting in 2003 by France's Dassault Aviation.

The technologies and advanced capabilities that the Mirage 2000-9s incorporate include Dassault's "Rafale technology," with similar modular avionics, an LCD glass cockpit with full night vision goggles compatibility, and advanced sensors and systems, according to the Bader 21 purchase agreement signed in 1998.

At the core of the Mirage 2000-9's navigation and attack system is a Thales-and Dassault-developed modular data processing unit similar to the one used in the Rafale. This serves as the mission computer, manages the navigation and attack system, controls the cockpit display system and generates symbology for the head-up and head-down displays. As a result, the Mirage 2000-9 is claimed to enjoy a world-beating, highly intuitive man-machine interface.

The UAE in 2014 also offered an undisclosed number of Mirage 2000-9s to Egypt as part of its Falcon Eye military satellite deal with France. According to the source, discussions included the possible purchase of 40 Rafale Fighters and the refurbishment of the UAE's Mirage 2000-9 fleet with intent to provide to the Egyptian Air Force.

The UAE is also completing the purchase of 24 Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light strike aircraft for border patrol and anti-insurgency operations. A number of those will also be provided to the Iraqi Air Force, the source said.

"The UAE is also presenting a number of the Super Tucano aircrafts from Brazil before the end of this month for border patrol and counterinsurgency to Iraq," he said. "We are hoping to finalize the deal before the end of the month."

On Jan. 2 Brazilian Air Force commander Gen. Juniti Saito announced that the UAE has begun negotiations for the procurement. He said the UAE wants six of the aircraft to be delivered immediately.

The source added that an undisclosed number of light Russian-made special operations forces tactical weapons will be provided for the Iraqi Army.

"Al-Abadi will be coming back in March to discuss the procedures for providing aircraft and weapons," the source said.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Minister, Sabri Saad, said in December that key issues were discussed during the visit in relation to supporting efforts to fund the reconstruction of affected areas.

"Iraq faces an existential threat and challenge ... all countries in the region have reason to cooperation in all political, security and social fields in order to defeat terrorism of [the Islamic State group's] terrorist gangs," he said.

During a November visit, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan pledged to support Iraq.

Abdullah said the UAE would continue to back the political process in Iraq, which would lead to security, justice and equality in the unstable country.

"We stand by brotherly Iraq as it is making efforts for reconstruction and achievement of peace and safety and in combating the forces of terrorism, which poses a danger to all the countries of the region and defaces the values of our true religion, Islam," Abdullah said.

Email: amustafa@defensenews.com.

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