European Participation in IDEX & NAVDEX 2021








The International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2021 (21-25 February, 2021) witnessed the participation of many major European defence companies. Leading Europea defence manufacturers showcased their newest products and solutions.




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Europe’s biggest defence company, BAE Systems, showcased its partnerships with companies in the region. A key example is the four Kingdom Partner Companies (KPC), delivering technologies, training and capability to Saudi Arabia. Also, there is the internship programme with Mubadala of the UAE, which is in its fifth year and has provided UAE engineering graduates with real-life practical experiences at BAE Systems’ facilities in the United Kingdom.

Alongside various head-up displays (HUD), Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), and Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), BAE also showcased their APKWS laser-guided rocket, the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 jets, as well as various hardware with autonomous capabilities such as the Riptide Autonomous Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, the Pacific 24 (P24) Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), and the PHASA-35 solar electric unmanned air vehicle.

The giant European aerospace company Airbus displayed its wide range of technologies, capabilities and solutions from Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters. For Airbus Defence and Space, this included their airlifter, the A400M, as well as the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Also on display were the C295 tactical transport aircraft and the Inmarsat 6 communications satellite. Airbus Helicopters meanwhile presented its NH90, both the NATO frigate helicopter (NFH) and Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) variant as well as the latest variant of the Super Puma family, the multi-role H225M.

Airbus Secure Land Communications (SLC), an Airbus business unit, put a particular emphasis on showcasing mission-critical solutions for defence and security forces, such as Tactilon Agnet 500 and 800, smart collaboration platforms for multimedia communication and data sharing, as well as the systems embedded into them. These include Manpack, a portable LTE tactical bubble, the Tactilon Dabat smartphone and Tetra radio in-one. In regards to these, Airbus also signed a partnership agreement with UAE-based Atlas Telecom, to integrate the aforementioned systems with Atlas’ solutions.

Nexter Group, France’s leader in terrestrial defence, also took this opportunity to highlight its own partnerships in the Middle East. Nexter has been supporting the UAE Armed Forces for more than 20 years in the maintenance and technical support of their Leclrec (XL) tank. This cooperation continues with the renovation of these tanks.

Nexter also showcased its Caesar self-propelled gun used by UAE Units; and the TITUS armoured vehicle, which is enhanced by integrating robots (NERVA on the ground and IXOS-LG from the roof) on the body, enabling the crew to extend its observation capabilities without exposing itself to the outside of the vehicle. Nexters also exhibited conventional and smart ammunitions ranging from 20 to 155mm.

Fellow French armoured vehicles manufacturer Arquus (formerly Renault Defense Trucks) presented its newest light armoured vehicle, the Scarabee, which comes in three versions: reconnaissance version;  Special Forces version (PATSAS); security/antiterrorism version.

Furthermore, Arquus unveiled for the very first time at IDEX 2021 a new business unit dedicated to the global development and marketing of the company’s Remote-Controlled Weapon Systems (RCWS): the Hornet Business Unit. From IDEX 2021 on, Hornet will be offering the brand-new RCWS of the Hornet range, namely the flagship Hornet and the lightweight Hornet Lite.

Italy-based Leonardo exhibited various ammunitions and weapons systems, priding itself with its close ties to the UAE military, which uses more than one hundred of Leonardo's platforms. Examples of this include the OTO 76/62 mm, 40L70 mm, Marlin 30 mm, Hitrole 12,7 naval guns for UAE vessels as well as AW139, AW169, AW189, and AW109 helicopters.

Leonardo presented systems compatible with these platforms, such as the Ulisses acoustic Anti-Submarine Warfare system, and the Osprey 30 active electronically scanned array radar. These stood along with other electronics; SAGE Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and LEOSS electro-optical system. Another exhibit was the Aermacchi M-346FA, a light multirole fighter developed from the M-346 trainer. Leonardo's American arm, Leonardo DRS presented the Trophy active protection (APS) system.

Sweden’s Saab uncovered the first UAE-developed product at IDEX 2021, the Rugged Camera Module - Infrared (RCAM-IR). It is a result of Saab’s partnership with its local partners. In 2018, Saab set up its development and production centre in Abu Dhabi’s Tawazun Industrial Park.

Saab also annonuced during the event further deepening its cooperation with Abu Dhabi Tawazun Industrial Park (TIP), forming the Sustain and Enhance Emiratization in Defence and Security (SEEDS) programme in an effort to further localise the defence production in the UAE.

Tawazun also signed a cooperation agreement with MBDA for the development of the SmartGlider weapon systems. This system, unveiled in 2017, represents a family of air-launched guided weapons, optimised to counter anti-access strategies and other emerging battlespace threats. The present agreement will take the development from design to production phase. MDBA launched Sky Warden, a system to counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS). The system manages the full C-UAS kill chain from detection to neutralisation and can operate both in an integrated air defence architecture, or by itself.

Finnish defence company Patria displayed its armoured wheeled vehicles, mortar system, as well as electronic solutions and software products. Among the exhibited vehicles were the Patria AMVXP an eight-wheeler and the Patria 6x6 with six wheels. Patria Nemo, a lightweight remote-controlled mortar system, was also displayed; the system can be installed on terrestrial and naval vehicles. Patria also presented CRAWLR, an open-source intelligence (OSINT) software product for governmental actors for gathering and analysing open-source data combined with private data.

The 15th edition of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) and the Naval Defence Exhibition (NAVDEX) was concluded on 25 February. This is the first global defence event to take place in the post-pandemic recovery stage, with 62,445 attendees at the venue across five days. USD 5.7 billion worth of deals were signed by the UAE Armed Forces during IDEX and NAVDEX 2021.

By Kevin Klemann

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