AIRSHOW-Gulf Arabs focus on short-term military procurement needs

Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:05pm EST
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* Big-ticket weaponry gets less short term attention

* Ammunition, repairs are the immediate focus

* Yemen, Iraq, Syria war strain supply chains

* Renewed focus on affordability

By Tim Hepher, Andrea Shalal and Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Having rushed to war in Yemen just as oil prices sank, Gulf Arab militaries are in a thrifty mood. They are focusing on immediate wartime needs like ammunition supplies.

Such caution does not mean the rich dynasties have lost the taste - or as they see it, the need - for advanced warplanes and regional missile defence, Arab and Western officers and industry executives at the biennial Dubai Airshow said.

Saudi Arabia for example is proceeding with a modernization of its navy, and Kuwait is still poised to buy $3 billion of fighter jets from Boeing on top of $7 billion in Eurofighters.

Such projects are partly a response by the U.S.-allied Sunni Muslim monarchies to the perceived threat from Shi'ite Iran. In Riyadh, Iran is viewed as an expansionist power bent on exporting its 1979 Islamic revolution.   Continued...