Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously described the technology on display at UMEX by CATIC. The article below has been updated.

BEIRUT — The United Arab Emirates has signed a letter of intention to procure 12 L-15 jet trainers from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, the Emirati Defence Ministry announced Wednesday.

UAE Air Force Col. Abdulnaser Al Humeidi revealed the country’s intent to buy the fixed-winged Chinese aircraft, with the possibility of increasing the quantity to 36. The L-15 is a training and light-attack aircraft for fourth- and fifth-generation fighter pilot training.

Retired Emirati Brig. Gen. Khalfan Al Kaabi told Defense News the decision reflects the UAE’s approach to diversify its sources of weapons.

At the recent unmanned technology tradeshow UMEX, held Feb. 21-23 in Abu Dhabi, China’s CATIC displayed the U8EA helicopter drone alongside other unmanned system mockups.

For its part, China North Industries Group Corporation Limited — NORINCO for short — also had a presence at the IGG stand with several Chinese-made systems, including a sample of the BZK-005E UAV, rotary-wing and mini- drones, the Red Arrow and Blue Arrow missile systems, the Golden Eagle CR500A unmanned helicopter produced at the China-Emirates Science and Technology innovation laboratory.

The fifth edition of UMEX also featured a training and simulation event dubbed SIMTEX. Deals made during the shows exceeded 2 billion dirhams (U.S. $544 million) and included:

  • A 112.966 million dirham contract with American firm Boeing for training and maintenance services for flight simulators for the UAE.
  • A 66.128 million dirham deal with French company Thales’ Defence and Mission Systems division to update and develop naval systems on planes for the UAE.
  • A 31.048 million dirham deal with CAE Maritime Middle East involving the revision of a contract for a plane training center for the UAE.
  • A 10 million dirham deal with UAE-based International Golden Group for drone systems for the country.
  • A deal exceeding 639 million dirham with Emirati company Global Aerospace Logistics for technical support, maintenance, repair and spare parts services for the country.
  • Denel SOC subsidiary Denel Dynamics of South Africa inked a contract worth more than 5.597 million dirham to provide technical support for aircraft systems for the UAE.

Agnes Helou is a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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