France to help UAE secure airspace against growing attacks | Military news

The defense minister said France was also involved in aerial surveillance using Rafale jets stationed in Abu Dhabi.

France will help the United Arab Emirates’ air defense system after a series of ballistic missile and drone attacks launched from Yemen by Houthi rebels on the Gulf country, its defense minister said on Friday.

Paris maintains close economic and political ties with Abu Dhabi and has a permanent military base in the Emirati capital. It struck a deal in December to sell 80 Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, the largest-ever overseas sale of the French fighter jet.

“The United Arab Emirates was the victim of serious attacks on its territory in January,” said Defense Minister Florence Parly. tweeted. “In order to show our solidarity with this friendly country, France has decided to provide military support, in particular to protect its airspace against any intrusion.”

The United Arab Emirates has over the past two weeks been attacked by the Houthis with drones and missiles, including one targeting a base housing the US military. This was thwarted by US-built Patriot interceptors.

A Rafale fighter jet on show at the Dubai Air Show [File: Nikhil Monteiro/Reuters]

The French Ministry of Defense said the agreement with Abu Dhabi would see operations carried out from Al Dhafra airbase offering refueling and surface-to-air capabilities.

“Air operations are planned… in coordination with the Emirati air force, to detect and intercept drone strikes or cruise missiles targeting the United Arab Emirates,” the ministry said.

France is also assisting the UAE in aerial surveillance using Rafale fighter jets stationed at France’s Abu Dhabi air base, Parly said.

Refueling and regular observation missions for Rafale fighter jets will take place only on Emirati territory, French officials said.

In this photo released by the US Air Force, US Army troops work near a Patriot missile battery at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu DhabiUS troops work near a Patriot missile battery at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi [File: Staff Sgt Jao’Torey Johnson/US Air Force via AP]

Earlier this week, the United States also announced that it would send fighter jets to help the United Arab Emirates after missile and drone attacks.

A little-known group called Awliyat al-Waad al-Haq (True Pledge Brigades), believed to have links to pro-Iranian armed factions in Iraq, said it launched four drones targeting the wealthy Gulf state at dawn on Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates, which does not directly border Yemen, has not been a major target of Houthi attacks since 2015 – when they began fighting in Yemen as part of an Israeli-led military coalition. Saudi Arabia supporting the country’s internationally recognized government.

But a Jan. 17 attack by the Houthis appeared to signal a strategic shift for the rebel group.