UAE Signs $917M in Deals at IDEX 2007
By DEFENSE NEWS STAFF, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates
The eighth edition of the International Defense Exhibition, or IDEX, drew to a close Feb. 22 after seeing a record number of exhibitors and awards.
Some 862 exhibitors took up a total of 32,000 square meters of space at the show, with Turkey taking the most space, followed by the United States, then Germany. A record 3.37 billion dirhams ($917 million) worth of contracts were awarded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to local and foreign exhibitors during the show.
The United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are seeking to bolster their defense capabilities in light of increased tensions in the region, particularly with Iran.
Frederic Theux, president of show organizers Reed Exhibitions Middle East, said in a press release that the global response to this year’s IDEX has been very positive.
$384M in Deals in One Day
The UAE Armed Forces signed contracts worth 1.4 billion dirhams, mostly with local defense companies, on Feb. 21, the fourth day of IDEX 2007, said Maj. Gen. Obaid Al-Ketbi, the military’s chief of logistics.
The Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co. (GAMCO) won a 343 million dirham job to maintain Air Force Hawk jets and trainers, said Al-Ketbi.
A 228 million dirham contract to maintain 80 Air Force F-16 Block 60 jet fighters went to DynCorp, Al-Ketbi said. The award follows another UAE-DynCorp maintenance deal in January: a $165 million contract to help local company Al-Taif provide depot-level maintenance for the armed forces’ vehicles.
The day’s largest contract, worth 400 million dirhams, went to local firm Global Medical Solutions to provide training and staff to the military’s medical services.
Other deals included a 368 million dirham contract to lease transport aircraft from local firm Maxims, Al-Ketbi said.
E-2D Back in Running
Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Hawkeye 2000 is back in the competition to make an aerial early warning platform for the UAE Air Force and Air Defense, according to officials here, but local observers say a Boeing aircraft may have the edge.
“We are still looking at what is available in the market to select the best system,” Al-Ketbi said. “We are waiting to see the results of the studies and negotiations on ... competing platforms.”
The E-2D is competing against planes from three other firms: Siemens, EADS and Boeing. Industry officials expect a decision later this year.
Northrop Grumman came close to signing a contract with the United Arab Emirates for the E-2D in 2003, but the deal fell apart after the U.S. Navy refused to allow the export of communications link software on board the aircraft.
UAE Milsat Contest Heats Up
A European consortium and Boeing rival submitted bids earlier this year in a highly sensitive tender for a UAE secure telecommunications satellite, dubbed Yahsat, a defense executive said Feb. 21.
European companies Alcatel Lucent, Thales and EADS Astrium submitted a joint bid at the beginning of the year, the executive said at IDEX. A decision could be made at the end of this year.
Another UAE Deal for ADSB
Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) secured a contract to produce 12 fast patrol craft for the UAE Coast Guard, announced on the show’s second day. Al-Ketbi said the contract for the 34-meter fast patrol vessels is worth $34.5 million.
“This is our first major order for composite material boats, which we will manufacture using glass-fiber-reinforced plastic,” said William Saltzer, chief executive of ADSB, which traditionally builds aluminum vessels.
The boat’s design is in its final phase. ADSB is making adjustments to meet the needs of the Coast Guard and Navy.
“The first boat will be a prototype which will take up to 18 to 24 months,” Saltzer said.
U.K.-Oman Education Deal
Oman is close to signing a $1 billion-plus deal to build and operate a defense academy with a joint venture involving Britain’s Serco and local company Oman Bahwan Engineering.
“I would say we are in the final two weeks of negotiations,” Alan Garwood, head of the British government’s Defence Export Services Organisation, said at the show. “They may be completed by the end of this month, although that could be a little optimistic.”
Serco and its partners in the Training College Consortium were selected in 2004 as the preferred bidder for a 30-year private finance initiative deal to build and run Oman Technical College. The academy will centralize all Oman Defense Ministry military training.
The value of the deal then was set at $1.4 billion, with a signature expected within four months. That proved optimistic. The private finance initiative talks have taken three years.
Maintaining Tunisia’s C-130s
Gulf Aircraft Maintenance, the primary contractor responsible for most UAE Air Force depot maintenance, is expanding its third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul work. Under a contract announced Feb. 20 at IDEX, the firm will conduct heavy maintenance on the Tunisian Air Force’s C-130B and H transports.
The Tunisian deal is “a significant achievement for GAMECO,” given the competition for transport aircraft maintenance in the United States, Europe and Asia, GAMECO Chief Executive Saif Al Mughairy said.
Tunisia operates a relatively small fleet of military aircraft. The C-130 is its primary military transport, and it flies eight C-130Bs and three newer H models.
GAMECO did not say exactly how many C-130s were part of the maintenance contract.
Mobile Mortars for UAE
The United Arab Emirates has ordered 48 Agrab (Scorpion) mobile mortars worth 390 million dirham from local maker International Golden Group (IGG).
UAE officials announced the deal Feb. 19, leaving out the number of units, which was provided by an IGG spokesman.
The 120mm mobile mortar is a joint effort between British, Singaporean, South African and UAE companies. Mounted on a four-wheel-drive armored utility vehicle, the Scorpion can fire high-explosive, improved conventional, infrared illumination and smoke-screen rounds.
Link 16 for Saudi Jets
Data Link Solutions has received a $34.8 million U.S. Air Force contract from Warner Robins Air Logistic Center to provide Saudi Arabia with Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems (MIDS) gear for its F-15 fighters.
The deal buys MIDS LVT-3 Fighter Data Link and follows a previous award for Link 16 equipment to support Saudi E-3 AWACS.
Link 16 provides data communications, situational awareness and navigation in a jam-resistant, crypto-secured package. It allows data sharing between tactical fighter aircraft, command-and-control aircraft, ships, and fixed and mobile ground sites.
Joint Helo Service Center?
Sikorsky, the U.S.-based helicopter maker, and Qatar-based Gulf Helicopters are looking at creating a Middle East service center.
The memorandum of understanding, signed Feb. 19, could lead to a center to provide maintenance support, spares, training, design and development services to Sikorsky, Gulf and other commercial and governmental rotorcraft in the region. It would also create and manage a fleet operations center to provide logistics support.
Gulf Helicopters, a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum, serves the oil industry and others with transport, seismic support and load-lifting helicopters.
Sikorsky and Gulf also signed a contract for the second of two S-92 helicopters to serve regional heads of state and other top officials. Stephen Estill, Sikorsky vice president and chief marketing officer, said the agreement is part of Sikorsky’s attempt to build regional sales. The firm recently sold S-92 and S-76C helicopters in the Middle East.
UAE Firm Pitches Drone
Adcom Military Industries, a local private company, is in talks with countries in the Arabian Gulf region about its new Yabhon RX surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), project manager Ansama Abadi said. The company displayed the propeller-driven RX drone for the first time at IDEX.
Abadi said the Yabhon RX can stay on station for some 40 hours — 10 more than the existing Yabhon R model. The RX also has a new aerodynamic design and can carry a larger payload weight of 60 kilograms, compared with 40 to 50 kilograms for the R drone.
Adcom also displayed for the first time the jet-powered HMD target drone, which uses a lifting body designed in-house, Abadi said. UAE forces operate the highly maneuverable twin-engine UAV, which has a top speed of 650 kilometers per hour, he said.
In the development pipeline are an electrically powered micro drone and a vertical-takeoff UAV, he said.
GD Pushes LCS Variant
General Dynamics (GD) is pushing its Multi-Mission Combatant, a variant of the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) at IDEX, with hopes of attracting Middle East customers.
Its first U.S. Navy LCS, the USS Independence, is about 45 percent complete and will be delivered in 2008, said Robert Sprigg, who directs advanced warfare concepts for GD’s Bath Iron Works.
The Independence is being built in partnership with Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., and is based on the Austal trimaran design.
“The ship is designed to be a host for modular mission packages,” Sprigg said. “This ship is basically an empty volume with a core self-defense system. The initial package includes three types: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and mine warfare. You can tailor it to fit these three missions at any time.”
U.K.: $4B Spent in 4 Years
Britain has spent nearly 2 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) in the last four years to fill urgent requests for equipment from field commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq, a top British military officer said at the Feb 17 Gulf Defence Conference, held here before IDEX.
Lt. Gen. Dick Applegate, the U.K. Defence Ministry’s chief of defense materiel (land), told conference delegates that between 2003 and the end of 2006, Britain spent 1.8 billion pounds on new demands for weapons or pulling forward programs already in its procurement plans. The required funds generally come from Treasury contingency funds, although their operation and support falls on the cash-starved defense budget.
The system, known in Britain as Urgent Operational Requirements, is now running at what are believed to be unprecedented levels. Applegate said that 309 projects are in progress, while 115 new Army programs procured conventionally will enter service in the next five to seven years. •
Adnan Abdel-Razzak, Andrew Chuter, Riad Kahwaji, Wendell Minnick, Barry Rosenberg and Pierre Tran contributed to this report from Abu Dhabi.