U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said British troops may be stationed in the United Arab Emirates as both countries develop their defense ties.
Cameron concluded a two-day visit to British troops in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, today before flying to Oman to coincide with the sale to the Persian Gulf country by BAE Systems Plc of 12 Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets and eight Hawk 128 advanced trainers. The U.A.E. has shown interest in ordering as many as 60 Typhoons.
“What you’re seeing specifically with the U.A.E. is not just a plan to sell Typhoon aircraft, but a big significant defense cooperation which could, yes, lead to British troops stationed in their country,” he told reporters in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, before boarding a flight to Oman. “This is an exciting possibility for both countries to have a proper strategic defense relationship.”
Cameron’s comments echo those made by General David Richards, the chief of the U.K. defense staff, earlier this week, signaling that British joint-forces units will spend longer periods of time deployed in the Gulf. The U.K. has some units already based in the Gulf, including naval vessels and a command unit in Bahrain, as well as aircraft in the U.A.E. and Qatar.
The prime minister said last month he wants to arrange the sale of more than 100 planes to the Gulf region in the coming year. He visited the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia in November to promote the planes. The Typhoon is built by Eurofighter GmbH, made up of BAE, Finmeccanica SpA and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.
Cameron said today that Britain’s relationship with the U.A.E. in terms of the Typhoon sale is “looking good.”
In his speech, Richards also referred to “traditional but potentially enhanced roles” for U.K. forces in Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as he set out their role after the end of combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.