UK’s 906th Expeditionary Air Wing stands up in UAE

The UK MOD announced today that the Royal Air Force’s 906th Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) stood up at at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.  A formal ceremony had been held at Al Minhad on Janaury 15 to officially form the 906th EAW, emphasising the UK’s continued support and presence in the UAE.

The tasks of the unit will include the provision of support to air transport links between the UK and deployed operations in Afghanistan, in addition to providing logistics support to deployed forces.  The newly stood up EAW will also be responsible for supporting RAF aircraft conducting joint exercises in the region. It was last used operationally during Operation Ellamy, the UK campaign over Libya.

Recently exercises have included RAF’s Typhoon and E-3D Sentry aircraft, which have been exercising with multi-national contingents at Al Dhafra Airbase in the UAE.  Aircraft have also joined the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC) that has been hosted for the past ten years by the Emirates.

Air Commodore Phil Beach, UK Air Component Commander, 83rd Expeditionary Air Group, was at Al Minhad Air Base to mark the formal stand up of 906 EAW.  He said: “The standing up of 906 Expeditionary Air Wing in the United Arab Emirates marks an important milestone for the RAF and underlines the continued strong relationship that we share with our UAE friends.  We are grateful for the excellent facilities that have been provided for us and look forward to participating regularly in flying exercises in the region.”

Wing Commander Mike Baulkwill, Officer Commanding 6 Squadron, which was exercising with its Typhoon aircraft in the UAE before Christmas 2012, said: “We have seen the ground crew and pilots from 6 Squadron lead and operate in a very different environment giving the pilots, ground crew and support staff an opportunity to work alongside other nations and our Emirate counterparts.”

The establishment of the EAW follows only a couple of months after a joint communique was issued by the UK and the UAE, on November 6, 2012, confirming plans to further strengthen and develop partnerships between the two countries.  It follows a visit to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron to the UAE.  This will bolster closer ties with the UAE and at the same time increase joint exercises and training.  It will also boost  the establishment of a defence industrial partnership centred on the Eurofighter Typhoon.

At that time it was suggested that establishment of a permanent strategic base in the UAE for RAF jets, most likely Typhoons, was also being examined.   Whilst nothing has still been announced officially, the establishment of the 906th EAW could well prove to be another step in that direction. Alan Warnes