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United Arab Emirates ( UAE) Military Strength In 2023: An Complete Overview



uae military power

The adage “Strong defense is the cornerstone of a secure nation” certainly applies to the UAE. To protect its citizens and its interests, the nation has made significant military investments.

Due to its expanding economy and powerful military, which is regarded as the most sophisticated in the area, the UAE is clearly a strategic player in the Gulf. Additionally, the Gulf is constantly impacted by security concerns and geopolitical upheaval. The UAE’s military strength capabilities are more crucial than ever.

Consequently, the UAE completely overhauled its military, embracing cutting-edge weaponry and technology. 

This article will explore the UAE’s Military Strength, including its urgent assets and future modernization plans. Let’s dive in!

Importance of Military Strength in the Emirates

Throughout history, strong militaries have played a crucial role in the stability and security of any particular region. The Middle East is no exception either – in fact, given the region’s strategic placement, the Middle East needs a powerful military to maintain stability and peace.

dubai army rank

In recent years, the Gulf region has experienced ongoing conflicts, political instability, and, of course, the threat of terrorism. The situation demands the nation constituting the Gulf should maintain a powerful standing army to safeguard national interest and maintain peace.

Also, the Middle East also holds the world’s largest oil reserves, making it a vital economic hub. In this context, the security and stability of the region become more crucial because it not only involves the interest of nations within but also of the global economy.

Overview of the UAE Military Forces

The UAE dreams of being a global icon of development and modernization. And it’s only possible when the borders are secure; therefore, it recognized the criticality of military strength early and took steps to strengthen its defense forces.

uae army uniform

Today, UAE’s military is one of the strongest in the region, not only safeguarding the country’s borders but contributing to the region’s security as well.

The Historical Context of the UAE Military

The history of UAE’s military goes back to 1951 when the British formed the Trucial Oman Levies. Initially, the forces served under British command, but they were officially handed to the UAE after the unification of the seven Emirates to form a nation in 1971.

uae military route march

At the time, there were three distinct forces: the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, Ras Al Khaimah Mobile Force, and the Dubai Defence Force. But on 6 May 1976, all three forces merged into one called the Federal Defence Force.

In its early days, UAE’s military relied on foreign aid, mainly from the UK, to build its capabilities. But in recent years, it has significantly reduced its reliance on foreign support.

Structure of the UAE military

Currently, 65000 personnel serve in the UAE’s military. It operates under the Federal Armed Forces, which oversees the nation’s defense.

uae special forces

Moreover, the Federal Armed Forces constitute the UAE Army, UAE Navy, UAE Air Force, and UAE Joint Aviation Command.

Its command structure involves multiple branches, with each having its own commander. Besides, the commander answers to the chief of staff, allowing efficient coordination and operational flexibility.

Overview of the different branches of the UAE military

As discussed above, the UAE military strength comprises four branches – the UAE Army, UAE Air Force, UAE Navy, and UAE Joint Aviation Command.

uae navy, armed forced, air force and The UAE Joint Aviation Command

  • The UAE Army – It’s the largest branch and is in charge of the land forces and ground operations.
  • The UAE Air – This branch is responsible for air defense and support operations.
  • The UAE Navy – This branch is responsible for securing maritime borders and conducting naval operations.
  • The UAE Joint Aviation Command – This branch sees through the joint air assets across all branches.

UAE Current Military Strength In 2023

The UAE’s Military is the most advanced in the region, and the credit goes to its modernization drive and technological advancement.

uae military size

Besides modernization, another critical factor for the formidability of the UAE’s military is its focus on diversification. Its diverse range of capabilities comprises missile defense systems, advanced fighter jets, modern naval vessels, and highly trained special forces.

The UAE military has 65000 active members operating in various branches as of 2023. On top of that, it also maintains a strength of 120,000 reserve personnel.

Besides, the military strength is further bolstered by the strategic ties with key allies, including the US and France. These partnerships provide UAE access to advanced military tech and sophisticated training programs.

Overview of the UAE’s key military assets

UAE has invested heavily in modernizing its military power and acquiring the latest tech to strengthen its military might.

Amongst the key Military assets under its arsenal are advanced fighter jet F16 and missile defense systems, including Patriot and THAAD.

The UAE defense force also boasts modern naval vessels such as the Baynunah-class corvette. Likewise, it also maintains a highly trained special forces unit.

But above all, the UAE is focussing on developing indigenous military equipment and weapons. This includes advanced weapons, drones, and armored vehicles such as Otokar-Al Jassor Rabdan (Armored Personnel Carrier).

Details on advanced weaponry and equipment

Here’s a brief overview of the advanced weaponry and equipment that UAE’s military maintains under its arsenal;

uae military equipments and new weapons

  • Fighter jets – To protect its air space, the UAE military maintains advanced fighter jets, including F16 Block 60 and Mirage 2000. Both Aircraft have been upgraded with the latest avionics and weapons.
  • Missile defense systems – The UAE military has acquired the latest missile defense systems to protect its ground from ballistic missiles. It includes THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and Patriot PAC-3 systems.
  • Naval Vessels – UAE armed forces also include formidable naval equipment. This includes Gowind, Abu Dhabi, and Baynunah class Corvette. Besides, UAE Navy also has Falaj 3-class patrol vessels, Ban-Yas and Mubarraz class fast attack craft.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – In the UAVs division, the UAE military is focussing on developing indigenous capabilities. It now has Yabhon and the Adcom Systems United 40.

Overview of the UAE Military’s Involvement in Regional and International Military Operations

Since its inception, the UAE military has been involved in various national and international peacekeeping as well as military operations. It reflects UAE’s strong commitment to maintaining stability in the region.

uae military rank

Here are a few examples where the UAE military played a significant role;

  • UAE military actively participates in the ongoing operation, ‘Restoring Hope’ in Yemen.
  • It’s also providing support for the Arab peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.
  • UAE military is also an active participant in Operation Desert Storm, Kuwait Liberation.
  • Likewise, it’s also providing its services for operations, ‘Helping Hand’ in Albania and ‘Operation Hope’ in Somalia.
  • The UAE military is involved in the $50 million project to clear minefields in South Lebanon laid by Israelis.
  • The UAE military is also overlooking the Iraq reconstruction efforts.

UAE’s Plans for Military Modernization In Upcoming Years

The UAE’s commitment to strengthening its military capabilities is also reflected in its future plans. The country has numerous initiatives underway geared to bolster its military strength.

Uae's plans for military modernization

Incidentally, UAE ranked 8th in the overall military expenditure, which accounts for 5.6% of its GDP. In 2022, UAE spent $22.5 billion to modernize its armed forces and procure the latest equipment. Moreover, experts claim that its defense expenditure might be $129bn between 2024 and 2028.

At the NAVDEX (Naval Defense Exhibition) in 2023, the UAE spent $6.4bn signing 67 deals.

The UAE is also in talks with the US to procure F-35 Lightning II fifth-gen stealthy aircraft and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

Likewise, it has also ordered Ghannatha landing craft and Al-Quwaisat-class landing ship tanks.

Compared to other military forces in the World, the UAE’s military strength is relatively young. Still, it now boasts extraordinary combat capabilities and is armed with modern tech and extensive weaponry.

But its modernization drive isn’t slowing down either – The UAE is committed to pushing its military strength further, and it reflects in its weapon dealings and defense budget.

And its active involvement in military operations both regionally and internationally has made it clear that it possesses the capabilities and the will to be at the forefront of peacekeeping efforts in the region.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many brigades are there in the UAE army?

·    2 Armored Brigades
·    Royal Guard Brigade
·    Artillery Battalion (3 Regiments)
·    3 Mechanized Infantry Brigades
·    2 Infantry Brigade

2. Is military service mandatory for UAE citizens?

Yes, UAE citizens have to undergo mandatory 11-month military service.

3. How much are the UAE reserve forces?

In addition to 65000 active members, the UAE military maintains around 77000 reserve personnel.

4. Does the UAE military have an F-35?

No. But talks with the US are underway, which could result in a positive outcome for the UAE.

5. How much is the UAE defense budget in 2023?

The UAE 2023 defense budget is expected to touch $26.9 billion.

Content writer with good vocabulary and experience in writing news articles, and product reviews for healthcare supplements. Decent and qualitative articles are published in various well-known portals.

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