Idex 2023: UAE signs military contracts worth $1.5bn on third day

UAE Armed Forces procurement arm secures 11 deals on Wednesday

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The Tawazun Council awarded contracts worth Dh5.8 billion ($1.57 billion) on the third day of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.

The procurement arm of the UAE Armed Forces and Abu Dhabi police signed 11 contracts, with six deals worth Dh756 million awarded to international companies, Zayed Al Meraikhi, the council's spokesman, said on Wednesday.

Local companies won five contracts worth Dh5.07 billion.

Among the local companies awarded contracts was Earth, a division of Edge Group, which clinched a deal valued at Dh4 billion to develop a tactical data link network.

Other UAE companies that secured deals include Edge unit Halcon for Dh1 billion and International Diving Trade Company for Dh28 million.

Another Edge division, NIMR, a manufacturer of combat-proven wheeled military vehicles, signed a Dh72 million contract to supply internal security vehicles to Abu Dhabi Police. Under the terms of the deal, NIMR will start delivering the vehicles in 2024.

Among international companies, France's Thales was awarded a Dh176 million deal to provide technical support for the GM-200 radars, while Naval Group secured a contract worth Dh407 million for Canto anti-torpedo systems and MU-90 torpedoes.

The UAE Armed Forces and Abu Dhabi Police signed deals worth Dh18.44 billion in the first three days of Idex, organisers said.

A recovery in oil prices is expected to lift Middle East countries' interest in defence procurement and spending, with a focus on localisation, said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East defence specialist at Janes.

“What we've seen at this show is actually very large contracts being announced by the Tawazun Council and awarded to Edge,” Mr Binnie said, citing products such as bomb-guidance kits.

“That's potentially significant because previously the UAE would have been reliant on US companies supplying those kits.

“The UAE military does not spend money on inferior stuff, they're known to be very demanding in terms of weapons and equipment … so if Tawazun Council is placing these huge contracts with Edge, that really seems to demonstrate a lot of confidence in what Edge has been doing over the years.”

On Wednesday, UAE defence conglomerate Edge said it was awarded two contracts with a combined value exceeding Dh70 million to deliver several V-Protect convoy protection solutions and Skyshield counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) solutions to a key international customer.

Edge reported an order intake of more than $5 billion in 2022, 35 per cent of which was in global exports, it said.

In the first two days of Idex 2023, the group announced new orders for products and solutions worth more than Dh10 billion, including international exports, with more orders expected to be announced before the end of the event, it said.

UAE's Edge presents 11 new autonomous products at Idex

UAE's Edge presents 11 new autonomous products at Idex

On Wednesday, Edge Group division EPI, the precision engineering unit of the UAE’s aerospace, oil and gas, and defence industries, and Lahab Defence Systems, which designs, develops and tests medium and large munitions, signed two initial agreements with Raytheon Emirates, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, to explore potential collaboration.

Advanced technologies, particularly big data, are increasingly important in defence applications.

“Defence is definitely moving to a big data world where all the sensors are gathering information all the time and channelling it back to centralised command control systems, where that data needs to be processed in a meaningful way and then orders sent back out so that units in the field can take the appropriate action,” Mr Binnie said.

“People are really interested in AI [artificial intelligence] as a way of processing that because you can't have enough humans looking at all these cameras the whole time, you need some sort of AI to alert you to what's significant in that data.”

Edge dominated the show with a mammoth exhibition of its products, ranging from subsidiary Halcon's UAV named Reach-S, to the Hunter series of drones and tube launchers.

Halcon on Wednesday signed a contract with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Defence Industries Research and Development Institute, a research institution in the field of defence industry technology and producer of precision air-to-surface weapons.

Under the contract, Halcon will send employees to the institute for training in formulating composite propellants and liners on a laboratory scale.

Edge also signed an initial pact with Britain's biggest defence company, BAE Systems, to collaborate on cyber and secure communications domains.

Meanwhile, Edge subsidiary Abu Dhabi Ship Building and ship-builder Fincantieri signed an industrial co-operation agreement for the design, construction and fleet management of military and commercial vessels.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 2:42 PM