Growing bonhomie with UAE

Emirate’s military company to partner with Indian firm to manufacture small arms

Prasun K. Sengupta


A series of large contracts worth USD 2.5 billion for weapons made by the EDGE Group, an Emirati military-industrial company Edge worth AED 9.27 billion were announced on the first two days of the IDEX 2023 expo, which was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from February 20 to 24.

The Tawazun Council, which manages procurement for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) armed forces, said it had awarded EDGE’s HALCON weapons subsidiary with a 4.7 billion Dirham contract for Desert Sting 25 lightweight guided-bombs, a 2.14 billion Dirham contract for Thunder-P3 bomb guidance kits, and a 1.1 billion Dirham contract for Hunter loitering munitions. EDGE’s ADASI autonomous systems subsidiary was awarded a 1.33 billion Dirham contract for Shadow loitering munitions. Notably, most of these precision-guided munitions (PGM) are also being offered to India’s armed forces through a series of military-industrial collaborative arrangements between the UAE and India.

Caracal, a small arms manufacturing subsidiary of EDGE, signed a partnership licencing agreement with the India-based Icomm to develop a portfolio of locally manufactured small arms for the Indian market. The partnership marks the first transfer of technology in small arms from the UAE to India. EDGE also inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which outlined several areas of cooperation between EDGE and the HAL, including the joint design and development of missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles.

In addition, both companies will explore the potential use of the HAL’s small gas turbine engines in EDGE’s guided weapons and EDGE’s GPS jamming and spoofing equipment on HAL’s platforms. Another MoU was signed by EDGE’s Al Tariq subsidiary with Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for jointly producing all-weather, day/night, long-range precision- guided munition (LR-PGM) kits in India.

Theunis Botha, the CEO of Al Tariq, said: “We are extremely proud to be partnering with Bharat Dynamics, a well-established manufacturer of high-technology weapon systems for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The MoU exemplifies the willingness and intent of Al Tariq and Bharat Dynamics in cooperating and identifying opportunities to jointly produce LR-PGMs in India. It will also enable us to meet the IAF’s requirements while fulfilling the government of India’s ‘Make in India’ mandate.”

Commodore A. Madhavarao (retd), Director (Technical) of BDL, said: “Our partnership with Al Tariq, a producer of outstanding, mission-proven precision-guided munition kits, marks a notable addition to our precision strike portfolio. Under the MoU, Indian variants of Al Tariq’s LR-PGMs will be developed and produced at our state-of-the-art facilities, adding a modular, advanced long-range capability to our precision-guided munition offerings.”

Al Tariq, originally established as a joint venture with South Africa’s Denel Dynamics, is now part of the missiles and weapons cluster within the EDGE Group. It was originally known as Tawazun Dynamics as it was a partnership between Denel Dynamics and Tawazun. In October 2018, the company rebranded itself as Barij Dynamics after investment from the Emirates Defence Industry Company (EDIC). In November 2019, the company became Al Tariq when it was consolidated along with 25 other UAE-based military-industrial entities under EDGE.

The company has since produced a large number of Al Tariq guidance kits for 250lb and 500lb bombs, mainly for the UAE Air Force’s Mirage 2000-9 M-MRCAs and F-16 Block 60s. The Block II version of the Al Tariq family of PGMs features an upgraded navigation system and a pre-flight power source to reduce the weapon’s independence on the carrying aircraft’s electrical power. The Al Tariq PGM comes in two main variants: the Al Tariq S and the Al Tariq LR, which have different seekers, payload sizes and wing kit options as well as multiple configurations as the company looks to add a new payload and fusing system for a height adjustable airburst option (Height-Of-Burst-Sensor).

Hongdu L-15 LIFT; Hunter-2S PGM; BDL-EDGE MoU exchange at IDEX-2023; Al Tariq

The Al Tariq S variant has a range of 40 km and the Al Tariq LR has a wing kit that extends range to 120 km. The 250lb Al Tariq S has a mass of 212kg, whereas it is 268kg on the Al Tariq LR. As for the 500lb payload, its mass is 310kg and 366 kg, respectively. The Al Tariq can be launched at a maximum speed of Mach 0.9 from an altitude of 40,000 feet. Its impact speed is programmable while the impact angle can be programmed between 30 and 90 degrees. There are three main guidance configurations: accuracy with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is approximately 10 metres CEP (circular error probable); with GNSS semi-active laser it is three metres CEP, and with GNSS imaging infra-red with automatic target recognition it goes down to two metres CEP. The Al Tariq S can engage targets up to 90 degrees off-axis while the Al Tariq LR can engage targets up to 180 degrees off-axis. Targeting can be either locked on before or after launch.

In a major deal, the Tawazun Council confirmed that it was in talks to order the Hongdu 12 L-15 Falcon tandem-seat lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) (with an option for another 36 at a later date) from the state-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC). Tareq Al Hosani, chief executive of the Tawazun Economic Council, said the projected procurement is part of continuing efforts to diversify and modernise capabilities of the air force and units of the UAE’s armed forces.

“We have reached the final stage in our talks with the Chinese side. The final contract will be signed soon,” he said. “We trust that CATIC has advanced technology that enjoys global competitive advantages.” First introduced in 2006, a more recent version called the L-15B has a weapons payload of four tonnes, with the instructor’s rear seat turned into a weapons systems officer’s seat to launch PGMs. The L-15 designation applies to export versions of the LIFT, which is known as the JL-10 in China. Zambia’s air force was the first export customer for the L-15, while Uruguay and Venezuela have reportedly expressed an interest in ordering the aircraft.



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