A range of state-of-the-art weapons and platforms were on display at the IDEX and NAVDEX
Prasun K. Sengupta
The 15th edition of the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) and the Naval Defence Exhibition (NAVDEX), held between February 21 and 25 at Abu Dhabi’s ADNEX expo centre, attracted 900 exhibitors from 59 countries, and 35 international pavilions. Five countries participated in the two expos for the first time: Israel, North Macedonia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Azerbaijan. Close to 50 Israeli companies were set to attend, but only about 20 per cent of them made it, including RAFAEL Advanced defence Systems, the Avnon Group (showcasing its anti-drone technologies), and small-arms manufacturer Emtan.
China had a major presence at IDEX, with its prominent exhibits being the HJ-12 manportable anti-armour guided-missile, the SR-5 multi-barrel rocket launcher, CM-501GA multi-purpose tactical strike missile, WS-43 loitering munition, Hongdu L-15 lead-in fighter trainer, the Chai Hong family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for reconnaissance, and the Wing Loong-II armed UAV. Both types of UAVs have been procured in modest numbers by the armed forces of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Recently, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with Sichuan Tengoen Technology to locally produce its TB-001 UAV as the Al Eqab-1. Ironically, China has also been the sole supplier of various types of armed and unarmed UAVs to Iran, including the Kaman family of UAVs that were recently rolled out by Teheran.
The IDEX expo this time also played host to a wide range of precision-guided weapons developed by subsidiaries of the UAE-headquartered EDGE Group. This included the SkyKnight, the UAE’s first air-defence missile system developed by the HALCON subsidiary of the EDGE Group. The system includes Rheinmetall’s Skynex central control node, multi-sensor units, an active electronically scanned array multi-mode radar. HALCON also showcased its HAS-250 subsonic anti-ship cruise missile, capable of travelling at speeds of up to Mach 0.8, with a range in excess of 250Km. During its terminal phase, it can fly towards its target at a sea-skimming altitude of below 5 metres. Another subsidiary company, AL TARIQ, unveiled its integration of a terminal guidance kit on a newly-developed penetration warhead. This R&D project is currently in the final phases of qualification and field testing and will be ready for production towards the end of 2021.
Several armoured vehicle manufacturers exhibited their range of solutions for the conduct of warfare over desert terrain. These included the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah-based STREIT Group, the world’s largest privately-owned armoured vehicles producer, and the Abu Dhabi-based Calidus and NIMR. Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, signed an agreement with NIMR to supply armoured vehicles to Riyadh.
Mahindra Emirates Vehicle Armouring, a part of India’s Mahindra Group, displayed a range of its latest armoured and tactical vehicles that are produced at its engineering facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE ,and Aqaba, Jordan. The South Africa-based Paramount Group announced at the IDEX expo that it had teamed up with India-based Engineering & Technology conglomerate Bharat Forge Ltd to share technologies, capabilities and expertise of both groups in order to manufacture wheeled armoured vehicles in India. An agreement to this effect was signed by both companies at the expo. One such vehicle is the Kalyani M4, a multi-role platform designed to meet the specific requirements for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by minefields and IED threats.