Abu Dhabi firm, U.S. helicopter maker Sikorsky team up to service military aircraft in Mideast

Monday, July 19, 2010

Abu Dhabi, Sikorsky to service military aircraft

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A young Abu Dhabi aviation company on Monday launched an $800 million joint venture with Sikorsky to service military aircraft across the Middle East, building on the emirate’s efforts to develop a homegrown aerospace industry.

Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, part of one of the oil-rich sheikdom’s state-run investment vehicles, said its deal with the U.S. company’s Sikorsky Aerospace Services division is designed to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services to the Emirati armed forces and other militaries in the region. The UAE is a longtime ally of the United States, and its military relies heavily on American and Western European aircraft.

“Putting these two companies together will be the right move to capture the lucrative market in the region,” ADAT Chairman Homaid al-Shemmari told The Associated Press. “With our local knowledge and reach …. and the capabilities Sikorsky can bring form the U.S., it’s a perfect match.”

The new venture will eventually be housed at a facility in Al Ain, an Emirati city about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the capital Abu Dhabi, on the border with Oman.

It will also operate on Emirati military bases, with an initial focus on servicing some of the country’s more than 400-strong fleet, which includes Mirage fighters from France and American-made F-16 planes and Apache attack helicopters.

Al-Shemmari said the company aims to service 10 percent of the Middle East and North Africa military maintenance market by the end of the decade. It is expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs, with an emphasis on employing Emiratis, who make up only a small fraction of the nation’s largely foreign work force.

Sikorsky Aerospace is part of Stratford, Connecticut-based helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a unit of United Technologies Corp.

ADAT was created in 2007 and is owned by the emirate’s Mubadala Development Co. investment arm.

Mubadala has been at the forefront of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to turn the emirate into a regional aerospace hub as part of a broader effort to diversify its economy away from oil. It has previously signed partnership deals with Airbus parent EADS and engine maker Rolls-Royce Group PLC.

Online: www.adat.ae

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