Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Maker of unmanned aircraft hovers over new UAE deals

Schiebel of Austria seeks more contracts in the Middle East for its unmanned aerial vehicles

Schiebel, the Austrian defence company, is seeking more contracts in the Middle East for its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) after nearing the end of deliveries on its 60-aircraft deal with the UAE Armed Forces. The focus comes as military and national security planners around the world shift to unmanned systems to lower costs and expand coverage of aerial reconnaissance activities to include critical assets such as power plants, oil and gas pipelines and refineries.

"There is a great deal of interest from a number of countries in the region - a couple are in the critical phases now, while others are in the early marketing phases," said Neil Hunter, the managing director for sales and strategy for Schiebel. The Vienna-based company, which also produces mine detectors, said the UAE was its first major contract and proved its products were able to withstand the hot and high-altitude conditions of the Middle East.

Schiebel has delivered 56 of 60 Camcopter S-100 UAVs to the Emirates, according to Wolfgang Steigberger, the regional sales manager at Schiebel. The company declined to give a cost for the aircraft but said it was 10 times cheaper than another well-known UAV, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout, which the military data provider Deagel.com says costs about US$15 million (Dh55m). Together, the two products have helped gain acceptance for helicopter-based UAVs, Mr Hunter said. "There has been a lot of scepticism and disbelief when it comes to unmanned helicopters but the likes of us and Northrop Grumman have proved they have a lot to offer."

Schiebel has formed a partnership with Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments to customise the platform with specific payload and operational characteristics into a system called Al Sber. There has been a significant growth of UAVs in active military theatres, Mr Hunter said. "There is a shift in emphasis to unmanned systems because they do the dull, the dangerous and the dirty tasks that you can avoid being done by humans," he said.

The US, which has the largest military budget in the world, said its army would move to operating mostly unmanned aircraft over the next 25 years. But Schiebel said civilian sector opportunities could be even larger. "This area is probably going to see the fastest growth before any of the other sectors," Mr Hunter said. The rise of border protection agencies is likely to increase the civilian market. One could be the UAE's Critical National Infrastructure Authority, which is tasked with protecting more than 24 facilities across the country and recently signed for 34 interceptor boats to protect offshore oil and gas installations.

While the initial UAV contract with the Emirates is nearing its conclusion, Schiebel is optimistic it may lead to other opportunities, including a logistics, training and sustainment contract for the 60 aircraft, which have a lifespan of 15 years. @Email:igale@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 will run until April 24, 2014. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National.

In pictures: Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 opens
at Adnec

Key developments and master plans are being unveiled at this year’s property exhibition in the capital.

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Designed by London-based Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick studio, the park will feature an outdoor cinema, an organic garden, picnic areas and cafes and restaurants. Photo courtesy Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation

Futuristic Abu Dhabi park to be built in the desert shade

Spread over 125,000 square metres, Al Fayah Park, on Airport Road, will be covered by a sand-coloured canopy, 20 metres high, with the appearance of cracked desert land from above.

 Room with a view from one of the 21 duplex penthouses located in the Gate Towers sky-bridge. The sports courts and swimming pools can be seen below. Courtesy Alda

In pictures: Aldar’s Gate Towers Penthouse Collection on Reem Island

Aldar launched its Gate Towers Penthouse Collection at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. The launch features 21 penthouses spanning the skybridge, with each having a private indoor pool and incredible views.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National