SINGAPORE – The United Arab Emirates has emerged as a surprise customer for KC-46A Pegasus, having formally made a request to buy the tanker aircraft, according to manufacturer Boeing.
Speaking to reporters at a media event on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue regional security summit in Singapore, Jeff Shockey, Boeing’s vice president of global sales for defense, space and security, confirmed that the Middle Eastern kingdom had issued a letter of request for three tankers.
The UAE now joins the list of potential markets for the KC-46A, alongside other interested parties such as Indonesia, Israel, Norway, Qatar and NATO.
Japan has already joined the U.S. Air Force in selecting the KC-46, with a request for four aircraft approved by the U.S. State Department in 2016 with two having already since been contracted through the Foreign Military Sales program.
The UAE’s request to buy the KC-46A is a surprise, given it currently already operates three Airbus A330 multirole tanker transports. It currently operates about 150 Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Fighting Falcon and French-built Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets.
It is unclear if the UAE is holding a competitive tender for additional tankers. Airbus referred Defense News to the customer when asked if the European manufacturer has received interest from the UAE about additional tankers.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first defense-related magazine article in 1998 before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Following a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense reporter in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.