Cyber protection deal announced at Idex

The Armed Forces are investing nearly Dh900 million in cyber networks and communications, the military has said.

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ABU DHABI // The Armed Forces are investing nearly Dh900 million in cyber networks and communications, the military has said.

A deal with C4 Advanced Solutions will develop the communications and command-and-control networks of the Armed Forces. The Emirati-owned company will also train technicians in the deal, which is worth Dh889.7m.

Cyber threats are a significant issue in the Gulf, said Major General Obeid al Ketbi, the spokesman for the International Defence Exhibition (Idex). The UAE military takes the threat seriously, he said.

"It is a concern not only for the Armed Forces, but for all security agencies everywhere," he said. "Of course we are paying more attention because this is a new threat we are facing."

Meanwhile, yesterday the UAE revealed some details of the revamp of the Black Hawk helicopters flown by the Armed Forces Special Operations Command.

The military said earlier this week that it intended to enhance and weaponise 23 of its 40 Black Hawks in a Dh993m deal awarded to Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technology (ADAT). That company will jointly develop the weapons systems with Sikorsky, the manufacturer of the Black Hawk.

Sikorsky will provide weapons kits that will allow the helicopters to carry rockets, missiles and heavy-calibre guns, according to a statement yesterday by ADAT and Sikorsky.

When not armed, the helicopters will be able to carry additional fuel tanks to extend their flight range.

The Black Hawks will be available for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as in military and humanitarian settings.

Under the contract, ADAT engineers will be trained in the US by Sikorsky, and the weapons kits will be fitted to the Black Hawks at a facility in Al Ain. The first test flights for the new military kits will occur in 2013, with delivery for deployment scheduled for 2014.

The military has also decided to purchase four Italian Aermacchi MB339 jets to supplement the existing fleet of trainer aircraft. The contract is worth Dh108m.

The UAE has listed military deals totalling Dh11.8 billion over three days at Idex. Gen al Ketbi said before Idex that the country planned to roughly match the Dh18.5bn spent at the last Idex, in 2009.

A significant share of the value of the deals was awarded to local companies, which offer quality that was competitive on a global level, Gen al Ketbi said.