Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Defense Technology (EDT) has signed a deal with the UK-based aerospace and defence company BAE Systems as a partner to develop artillery vehicles.
The agreement signed includes the opportunity to use BAE Systems’ towed M777 155mm Lightweight Howitzer and a plan to develop a self-propelled artillery system with EDT’s Enigma 8×8 Armoured Modular Fighting Vehicle. This UAE-made vehicle was unveiled at Abu Dhabi’s International Defence Exhibition (Idex) in February last year.
EDT’s Enigma programme seeks to provide the UAE’s land forces with a variety of vehicle types based on the common 8×8 chassis. This deal allows for the development of towed and self-propelled artillery systems, allowing forces the capability to carry out “fire-and-move” and precision attacks.
Colin Rothwell, the chief financial officer of EDT, said it was “delighted to collaborate with BAE Systems in the UAE for the M777 lightweight howitzer and its vehicle integration programmes”.
He said: “This agreement reinforces EDT’s commitment to partner with the world’s leading military companies to provide the most up to date and proven equipment, technology and solutions to our clients.”
BAE said that its M777 is half the weight of other 155m towed howitzers and is battle-proven, having been used by ground forces from the United States, Canada and Australia.
Stephen Luk, the head of campaign management at BAE Systems, said: “The M777’s credentials are unmatched by any other 155mm lightweight howitzer. It would provide the UAE Armed Forces with a high-quality howitzer that is easy to use and reliable in combat.”
Emirates Defense Technology has been building military equipment for the region for the past 20 years. The privately-owned company was originally part of the Bin Jabr Group which has subsequently also gained investment from Abu Dhabi-based KBBO Group.
No official government figures exist for UAE defence spending, but a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) ranks the UAE as the 14th-biggest spender on military equipment in the world. SIPRI estimated that the UAE invested approximately US$22.8bn on defence equipment in 2015 – or 3.2 per cent of GDP.
Defence manufacturing is one sector that has been targeted as a priority for the diversification of the economy of Abu Dhabi. State investment fund Mubadala set up Emirates Defence Industries Company (EDIC) in 2014 by combining its own defence companies with assets owned by Tawazun Holding and Emirates Advanced Investments Group. Companies within EDIC’s portfolio include Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments, Al Taif Technical Services and defence vehicle manufacturer Nimr Automotive.
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