ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The United Arab Emirates Air Force needs more weaponry, support training and intelligence sharing from its Western partners to be a more effective ally in operations against the Islamic State, a representative said Thursday.
Speaking on a panel at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla., Lt. Col. Hassan Ali Alanazi of the UAE Air Force said that after his country's participation in coalition operations in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and now Syria, it is ready to "move this level of partnership to the next level."
"We want to increase our combat effectiveness with more weapons or advanced weapons that we're looking for so we can do our job in a better way," Alanazi said. "And I hope that by helping us, we're helping the whole coalition forces."
The UAE currently joins Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United States in a U.S.-led bombing campaign against IS in Syria known as Operation Inherent Resolve. Airstrikes against IS in Iraq have been conducted by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Jordan and UAE had previously halted their participation in sorties against IS after Jordanian F-16 pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was downed and captured by IS fighters in Syria, but both nations restarted airstrikes against the group after Kasasbeh was burned alive earlier this year.
The UAE has been noted for its Air Warfare Center and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center, which enable integration of multinational coalition pilots in training exercises. Alanazi said that while the AWC was a "big success story," the IAMDC was "lacking lot of tools needed to take it to the next level," such as shared intelligence and early warning defense systems.
"We need to focus more as a coalition partner on this effort, because I would think it won't just help UAE; it will help all coalition forces in the region," Alanazi said. "What we need from our partners today, for future exercises, is to concentrate on training the support aspects of the missions. And what I mean by that is we need to concentrate on intelligence, maintenance, weapons, logistics – and it needs to be treated equally, like we treat the flying partner."
He noted that the UAE has a very young air force, and that while it has its own command and control centers, it needs more allied assistance in what Alanazi stressed as the "big picture."
"Working by ourselves, we have a smaller picture of the big picture, and we want to change that," Alanazi said. "Right now ... we're missing different parts of the picture. There are a lot of areas where these visibility issues are affecting us. And we need to have that trust between us. The UAE is today willing to share that picture, and we want that picture from your side, too. And I hope the future is going to be brighter than this, and I hope we can work together, because just to help us, we will help you, too."