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Dubai Airshow: Watch out Iran!

Posted 17 November 2019 · Add Comment

Two years ago Yemen was at the top of the agenda at the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC) held on the eve of the Dubai Airshow.


This year it was Iran – and a key message from the event was: “Watch out Iran”. 

The first two speakers, Major General (Ret) Khaled Al Bu Ainnan Al Mazrouel, who formerly commanded the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (UAE AF&AD), and General David Goldfein, chief of staff, US Air Force, were the most robust in their views. 

Al Mazrouel told the audience: “The Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia showed how deadly a mix of drones and cruise missiles can be. The drones can travel more than 1,000kms and, with a 5-9kg warhead, remain a serious threat. With a built-in targeting and GPS system, they can be very accurate in hitting the target and have now become a real issue.

“To combat this threat we need to change the entire structure of our command and control – to shift to IP-based systems and artificial intelligence. Confronting these threats needs to become part of our daily air tasking orders (ATOs).”

He added: “With drones and cyber warfare, the Iranians have demonstrated a different layer of attack and that’s one of the reasons the UAE AF&AD has now created a department of artificial intelligence.”

Show Business caught up with the retired major general after his speech, when he provided a further insight. “Iran is the biggest threat to the UAE and it has risen in recent years because they have been fighting proxy wars, not with their own militias, but using Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels.

“Iran is now transferring high-tech capabilities to the militias and then training them.

“The Houthis had a missile system that flew more than 860kms [during the recent AMMROC attack]. Where did they get it from?  

“The Houthis in Yemen don’t have the resources to build these kind of weapons – they are coming from Iran. The Gulf states have to be united to fight such threats.”

Goldfein didn’t pull any punches either when he said Iran was the number one sponsor of state-on-state terrorism in the region.

“It doesn’t respect the sovereign borders of its neighbours,” he said. “In the past few month it has attached explosive mines to international oil tankers operating in national waters, shot down a defenceless drone operating in international air space, and attacked the sovereign kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He finished with a warning to Iran: “I am confident that if we go to war against a peer nation this year, we have what it takes to fight them and to win.”

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