Tag Archives: uae

Dubai Airshow 2017: Space race heats up


As temperatures in the Middle East soar, the UAE and Boeing have further turned up the heat this week at the Dubai Airshow, courtesy of their mission to mars programmes.

Both projects were displayed at the DWC and have captured the imagination of attendees.

The UAE’s (Emirates) strategy to conquer Mars is something of a high-wire act which – according to the company’s website – will depend on precision and the ability of its aptly named Hope aircraft to be ready for launch when the alignment of the Earth and Mars’ respective orbits are closest together.

Such an occurrence happens once every two years, meaning that Hope has a particularly small launch window from which to make its maiden voyage in July 2020.


The expectation thereafter is that Hope will arrive on Mars in 2021. Four years of scientific observation are provisionally planned after arrival.

Before then the aircraft is expected to spend approximately 200 days on its journey from Earth to Mars – reaching a cruising speed of 126,000Km/h.


Not to be outdone, Boeing is supporting NASA to ready itself for a similar expedition, with the collaborative project being marketed with echoes of Neil Armstrong’s ‘one giant leap for mankind’ moon landing speech.

‘Today’s children will be the first explorers of our neighboring planet with help from Boeing technology to discover ground humans have yet to see.’

Boeing is a key collaborator on NASA’s Space Launch System – a project that seeks to create ‘robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.’ Essential to the project is their Deep Space Gateway, a habitable structure near the moon.


In April this year, Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division, outlined that the Deep Space Gateway was in its infancy. ‘The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s.’

Boeing envision the Gateway as the core base from which missions to Mars can be launched and similar in style to the docking system successfully used by NASA’s International Space Station for its commercial operations.


‘The transport vehicle would be equipped with a habitat specifically designed to protect passengers from deep space’s harsh environment…’ Boeing said in a company statement.

Other than an estimate of completion of the Deep Space Gateway itself, no firm timeframe has been publicised by Boeing or NASA in relation to when a voyage to Mars can be expected.

For more stories from the Dubai Airshow this week please see our free news website with videos too.

What to expect at IDEX 2017

With full news coverage and analysis of the IDEX 2017 exhibition here you can keep track of all the latestfrigate_al_makkahcropped developments.

The Middle East is in a period of turmoil and there are a lot of security requirements that need to be met. This includes border and internal regime security, upgrading old equipment and introducing new capabilities with the acquisition of new platforms and systems. By doing this, countries with forces engaged in the conflicts from the north to the south can improve their operational effectiveness. The most recent fighting has taken to the sea and now navies are looking to improve maritime security.

The UAE has been taking an ever more central role in the defence sector in the Middle East with the development of its own industrial manufacturing base attracting companies worldwide to invest and by hosting the IDEX exhibition. It is here that companies can find business enigmapartners that can give access to the market, but they will have to search hard to find the quality firms among the dross – those that are actually interested in production.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia remains one of the world’s largest defence spenders and continues to buy the latest and most modern platforms from the West across the land, sea and air domains. It has become a real regional power and is heavily engaged in asserting its position and its religious doctrine in the Middle East and beyond as well as funding the SANG for internal regime security.

Read here for some more details about recent procurement activity:

saudi-land Analysis – Land

RSAF Typhoon Take-Off Analysis – Air

140528-N-XJ695-463 GULF OF ADEN (May 28, 2014) The Saudi Arabian frigate HMS Al-Dammam (816) maneuvers into position, with its embarked helicopter circling overhead, during Exercise Eager Lion 2014. Eager Lion is a recurring, multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships and enhance regional security and stability by responding to modern-day security scenarios. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jesse A. Hyatt/Released) Analysis – Sea


Some companies are already laying out their bids. Patria is launching another new AMV 8×8 vehicle variant – the AMV28A (because it weighs 28t) – but the interesting feature of this vehicle is the option for the extended hull that would probably stretch the vehicle between the second and third axles making it longer. The company has already sold some Rosomaks (the Polish version of AMV) to the UAE, so why would they do that? Read more about it here.

Then there is AM General, supplier of all those HMMWV vehicles across the region. The company reckons there is still a market and is pushing the new Hawkeye variant that will offer a 105mm hawkeyecroppedartillery capability. But the real area of interest is the launch of a new Modular Protected Truck. This is intended to get around strict export rules and make it easier to sell. The company will launch the MPT at the show so it will be interesting to find out what they are offering.

And lastly a whole bunch of companies are lining up to fight for M60 tank upgrade programmes. Although defence spending is going up, countries in the Middle East still cannot afford to buy all-new equipment, especially main battle tanks. Therefore an effective cost saving measure is to upgrade the old ones to a modern standard with more effective capabilities.

raytheon_m60_slep-jpg-600x0_q85_crop_upscale m60t_-_imi-jpg-600x0_q85_crop_upscale leonardo_slide_-_victor-jpg-600x0_q85_crop_upscale

8×8 upset in UAE

enigma -The competition for the UAE’s 8×8 vehicle requirement has been shaken up by a new entrant – and it could be a sign of things to come.

Domestic company Emirates Defence Technology (EDT) displayed a new 8×8 design fitted with the BMP-3 turret at IDEX called Enigma that will challenge the international offerings that were also on display.

The UAE have a plan to diversify their industry away from oil and gas and defence is an important part of this. They want to reduce dependency on overseas defence equipment imports and develop their own domestic manufacturing capabilities.

This means that they are likely to select the Enigma design to meet a large portion of their 8×8 requirement. The Enigma vehicle was designed with the help of engineering firm Timoney and if selected will probably be constructed by Tawazun’s Nimr Automotive subsidiary. Nimr has 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles so this would be a first 8×8 for them.

amvHowever, for the international firms – apparently Otokar with the Arma, Patria with the AMV and Nexter with the VBCI are downselected – it will mean a smaller order than planned.

So unless they can come up with a way of meeting the UAE requirement at reduced cost with a large local build element the expected export contract could be almost halved.

Patria had their amphibious variant AMV on show at IDEX with a BMP-3 turret fitted to show what they can do. Furthermore their vehicle has been sold to Malaysia and South Africa, which are building some vehicles locally, and so Patria can expect to be competitive.

But if more countries want to develop this local capability like the UAE then it could reduce the export market for western firms. So what does the future hold and how will international industry react?