The United Arab Emirates Air Force's (UAEAF) plan to introduce a new fleet of airborne early warning and control aircraft is part of a push to enhance the air and missile defense capability of the Gulf state.

Recent operations in which the UAE had played a role as part of a wider coalition has driven the country to invest in more capable command and control capabilities.

Brigadier General Staff Pilot Rashed Al-Shamsi, the commander of the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College, told delegates at the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference on Nov. 7 - before the new Global Express platforms were ordered on the second day of the Dubai Airshow - that the new C2 platforms would “provide more overhead surveillance and share early warning capabilities,” and “allow for a rapid flow through of information for sensor to shooter.”

Al-Shamsi did not put a timescale on any procurements, but the UAEAF has been exploring options for an airborne early warning capability for several years. Back in 2009, the air arm purchased a pair of Saab 340 regional airliners fitted with the Swedish company’s Erieye radar, but this is largely considered to be an interim purchase allowing the UAEAF to experiment with the capability. It is unclear whether the aircraft have ever been deployed to support UAE operations outside the country’s borders.

Al-Shamsi said the UAE was also investing in a new air operations center that would “serve as the hub for linking together advanced tactical and operational capabilities.”

The air arm has also opened what Al-Shamsi called the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center of Excellence (IAMDC), part of an “aggressive step” towards the training preparation for emerging ballistic missile threats in the region. The IAMDC has been developed as a result of the UAEAF’s experience with the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC), a large-scale air exercise held in the UAE with regional and international air forces including the U.S. and U.K. air arms.

“The long term goal of IAMDC is to use a multilateral approach and co-operation exercise and training with regional partners like with the ATLC,” said Al-Shamsi.

The center will pave the way for new missile defense programs including the planned Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) system which is expected to be delivered to the UAE shortly. THAAD would allow the formation of a multi-layered missile defense capability in conjunction with in-service systems including Patriot and Hawk.

“These systems will provide the UAE with a more timely and upper and lower tier response capability,” Al-Shamsi said.

Other priorities for the air arm include the introduction of a remotely piloted air system, and new low-collateral precision guided munitions.