Oman’s air force has signed a contract with Airbus Military for eight C295 aircraft, the company has said. The Gulf state will use five of the aircraft in the transport configuration and three for its maritime patrol missions, the Airbus subsidiary said. “As well as upgrading the tactical transport capability of the RAFO in hot and dusty conditions, the aircraft will enhance Oman’s ability to patrol its territorial waters and to conduct missions against piracy, illegal immigration and smuggling,” said Airbus Military in a statement. The firm did not disclose the value of the deal. Oman is the first Gulf state to acquire the aircraft, part of Airbus Military’s family of light and medium airlifters. Governments in the Middle East and North Africa are expected to spend up to US$118.2bn per year on military hardware in order to buffer themselves against Arab Spring-like uprisings, a report by Al Masah Capital said in April. The MENA region spent US$91bn on arms in 2010, although this is expected to increase significantly over the next three years as Arab governments invest in systems to bolster their security and sovereignty. Just under half (US$45.2bn) of this spending was by Saudi Arabia, the GCC’s most populous nation, followed by the UAE, which in 2010 spent US$16.1bn on military equipment. Data published as part of the study also shows that MENA military spending is a significantly higher percentage of GDP than other parts of the world. According to Al Masah, expenditure averaged 5.5 percent of GDP between 2001 and 2010, compared to the global average of just 2.5 percent of spending.