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16 April 2015

Al Dhafra United Arab Emirates Drone Base

Where the Drones Are

Mapping the launch pads for Obama's secret wars.

By Micah Zenko and Emma Welch

May 29, 2012

In January 2002, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) was deployed to Al-Dharfa to support operations in Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. At the time, there were only 300 American servicemembers on the base. According to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, by September 2007 there were 1,300 Air Force personnel at Al-Dhafra. The 380th AEW also brought manned U-2 spy planes and the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk to the base. In 2005, an anonymous Air Force official stated, “There is a major Global Hawk operating base being built in the UAE.” According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, in June 2010 there were four Global Hawks at Al-Dhafra; by June 2011, there were six (five Air Force and one Navy). More recently, the United States has begun deploying F-22s, its advanced stealth fighter. According to Matthew Aid’s book Intel Wars, Global Hawks operating out of Al-Dhafra “fly daily [signals intelligence] and imagery collection missions along Iran’s borders with Iraq and Afghanistan and along Iran’s Persian Gulf coastline.”

17 September 2014

24°14'45.29" N 54°33'38.29" E


30 July 2013. A drone and U2.


24 March 2011. Another U2. Hangars enlarged.


2 March 2010. Small hangars under repair or construction.


14 April 2004.