More Armored Vehicles Bought Locally
The growing needs for weapon systems, and armor protection, by military and security forces, attract many manufacturers of armored vehicles. Several companies have established here production lines for armored vehicles and others like the Nimr Automotive group has grown to provide combat systems to the UAE military and are currently looking at some European countries for growth. The Ukrainian arms exporter Ukroboronprom is also present here, promoting new capabilities in military robotics developed in Ukraine.
On the first day of the show, Tawazun unveiled the Rabdan, a locally designed 8×8 armored vehicle designed to fulfill the requirement of the UAE land forces. In 2011 Twazun has been nominated the gatekeeper of a tender to procure hundreds of 8×8 AFVs for the Army. Rabdan (named after the horse of the prophet Mohamad) is modular platform designed for a gross vehicle weight of 30 tons and can mount various turrets and weapon stations and carry 11 troops offering the high level of protection from mines, IEDs and ballistic threats including anti-tank missiles.
In 2015 the company unveiled the UAE introduced a locally designed 8×8 platform called Enigma, that challenged many of the foreign contenders. The current vehicle – Rabdan – was designed by the Turkish company Otokar as an amphibious armored infantry vehicle. THe current version was developed by Al Jasoor, a joint venture between UAE-based Heavy Vehicles Industries, owned by Tawazun Holding (51%), and Otokar UAE, a subsidiary of Turkish company Otokar (49%). The vehicle will be assembled in Abu Dhabi, at existing manufacturing facilities at the Tawazun Industrial Park. The $660 million contract represents the largest Turkish defense export on record and one of the largest export orders of combat vehicles reported in recent years.
A contract worth AED2.4 Billion (about US$660 million) was awarded to Twazun, for the procurement of some 700 8×8 APCs. It was part of a total 4.416 ($1.2 Billion) contracts announced today at the opening of the IDEX expo. The program Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces attended the rollout ceremony.
Nimr Automotive, another rapidly growing member the EDIC group is a manufacturer of combat vehicles that unveiled here the Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) – the latest member of the Nimr vehicle family. Nimr Automotive as the original vehicle manufacturer, collaborated with UK-based MIRA, an independent engineering company to develop the RIV in response to requests from the Special Operations community. For example, the vehicle is equipped with underbody blast protection and modular applique armor packs for ballistic protection, increasing the crew survivability without compromising on mobility. The RIV can be transported by CH-47 helicopters underslung or inside the chopper. “It addresses a critical mission need for a high-speed, easily transportable vehicle that can quickly respond to tactical situations in remote sites,” said Fahad Saif Harhara, NIMR Automotive’s chief executive. The RIV is designed “for elite units to successfully carry out covert operations without alerting enemy or insurgent forces.” He added that the new vehicle provides the company with a competitive edge. “It addresses a critical mission need for high speed, easily transportable vehicle that can quickly respond to tactical situations in remote sites” he added.
In December 2016 the Armed Forces of the UAE inducted two new vehicle types delivered by Nimr – the Abjan class helicopter-transported special operations vehicle (SOV) and heavily armored Jais (previously N35) mine protected multi-purpose fighting vehicles, in 4×4 and 6×6 configurations. Days later the N35 was sent to support UAE forces fighting in Yemen. “The vehicle is a major milestone for Nimr” said Harhara, “It’s the largest vehicle in our range, providing exceptional mobility and protection on the modern battlefield.” In the past two years, Nimr has witnessed growth through expansion of its capabilities and vehicle range, development of greater production capacity and new strategic global partnerships. One of these was recently announced with Czech manufacturer VOP CZ, targeting the Eastern-European defense market.
A foreign contender pursuing the sale of special operations vehicles to the UAE is Supacat, showing the new HMT 400 Desert – a new variant of the Jackal at IDEX 2017. The vehicle has been configured to fully comply with the UAE Presidential Guard’s requirements for a new special operations vehicle, including tactical CH-47 internal loading, and has undergone successful tactical trials and testing by UAE forces over the summer. The HMT series, widely known as `Jackal`, has been battle proven in service with various elite special forces worldwide.
HMT 400 Desert has been adapted to enhance performance in the desert’s harsh environment and climatic conditions. It has no armor, and the lighter gross vehicle mass improves the power-to-weight ratio and increases mobility over deep desert sand. Further desert features include cooling, a central tire inflation system and lightweight bead locks to enable the vehicle to be operated at the lowest tire pressures. Supacat has recently demonstrated the flexibility of the HMT series in developing additional variants and conversions to meet wider and emerging requirements. These include HMT in the Recovery, Logistic Support, and Gun Towing roles as well as a single 4×4 to 6×6 convertible feature.