UAE to Supply First Air Missile Defense to Germany’s Rheinmetall

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The United Arab Emirates said it will supply its first locally manufactured air defense missiles to German security contractor Rheinmetall AG, as the Gulf state expands the production and export of military technology.

Halcon, a unit of state-owned Edge Group, designed the SkyKnight missile system to provide early warning signals and counter threats from aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and rockets, according to the announcement made during Abu Dhabi’s International Defense Exhibition and Conference on Tuesday. The missiles will be part of Rheinmetall’s Skynex defense system, the statement said.

UAE to Supply First Air Missile Defense to Germany’s Rheinmetall

Oil-rich UAE has undertaken to localize arms production and exports amid a push to diversify its economy and become less dependent on foreign companies, particularly defense contractors. Last year, Abu Dhabi-owned Edge accounted for 1.3% of global arms sales, ranked 22nd of the 25 top companies in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Edge’s Chief Executive Officer Faisal Al Bannai said in an interview that he expects sales to grow as much as 15% in 2021, up from $5 billion last year.

The group specializes in autonomous technologies, smart missiles and electronic warfare. Although electronic warfare systems have had only a limited presence in Edge’s portfolio right now, the company plans to become a global player by developing sophisticated products in the next two years, Al Bannai said.

The aim, he said, is not to cater to basic solutions, but “to really offer advanced solutions.”

Abu Dhabi established Edge in November 2019 and combined 25 companies under its umbrella, making it one the biggest defense groups in the Middle East.

Edge’s CEO also said:

  • Company has unveiled “very advanced” improvised explosive device jammers and GPS spoofers to counter drones and expects sales at the end of the year
  • Doesn’t expect advent of Biden administration to have a specific impact on deals with the UAE: “We are not really involved in any politics or administration policies.”

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