x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Idex: Made in the UAE military machines find favour with UK

British 'market is open' to UAE-made armoured vehicles, sniper rifles, assault weapons, handguns and ammunition, says minister.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during the opening of the INEGMA (Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis) at the Gulf Defence Conference on February 16, 2013, in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy AFP
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during the opening of the INEGMA (Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis) at the Gulf Defence Conference on February 16, 2013, in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy AFP
ABU DHABI // Britain is ready to purchase UAE-made military products, according to the British minister for defence equipment, support and technology.

Philip Dunne said that Britain was not restricted to only procure defence capability from within the UK or selected partners.

"We recognise your vision to develop indigenous capability, and I look forward to seeing this innovation and expertise on display over the coming days," he said.

"Even more than this, we recognise that in the years to come, the supply of defence and security equipment will become increasingly two-way traffic.

"Our market is open to your growing defence industries."

Last year, he said, the British ministry of defence published its open procurement philosophy.

"We stand ready to procure much defence equipment through open competition and greater international collaboration," he said.

The UAE developed its military industrial capability in 2007 with the establishment of Tawazun Holdings, which produces armoured vehicles, sniper rifles, assault weapons, handguns and ammunition as well as other military technologies.

Mr Dunne also said that he understood the need to work in the region and deal with the issues that affect the Arabian Gulf's security and he added that it was in Britain's national interest to strengthen its defence relationships with Gulf nations.

"It is important to identify the right partners for equipment, training and operational needs," he said.

His comments came as Britain and France said at the Gulf Defence Conference that they had prioritised the Arabian Gulf's security and had a long-term commitment to the UAE and the region's security.

Mr Dunne stated that his country may be increasing their military presence in the region within the next few years.

"Over the next two years our whole military posture will adjust as we redeploy from Afghanistan and move towards Future Force 2020 - the blueprint for our future armed forces, where flexibility and adaptability will become our guiding principle. Our capacity to undertake activity in this region will increase."

He highlighted that the strategic importance of the Arabian Gulf's energy producers was only likely to grow as global demand increases.

"The Gulf states are key partners for the UK in the fight against terrorism, especially countering the threats from within the Arabian Peninsula," he said.

The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, reiterated the importance of the Gulf to France.

He highlighted that France's role in the Gulf was a long-term strategic priority "to deepen a military cooperation that is already quite mature, and which has been reinforced over the years by joint military exercises, not to mention our close operational cooperation during more recent conflicts and, naturally, given the fact that both our armies are equipped with similar systems".

In 2009, France established its first military base built outside of French territory since the process of decolonisation began more than half a century ago.

"Our military base here is a reflection, as you might have gathered, of a long-term commitment," Mr Le Drian said.

"We are pleased with the exemplary defence relations between our two nations. And I take the opportunity of my presence here at Idex to note that, besides its military cooperation, France is willing to broaden its partnerships with the UAE with regard to various cutting-edge technology platforms."

He continued: "I think that our record in recent years shows that, for us, commitment is not a hollow notion. When one of France's friendly nations needs a hand, France is there to help."

Mr Le Drian said that there were big crises that gave a clear idea about the threats that the globalised world would have to face, and to which defence and national security strategies had to be adjusted.

"Nuclear proliferation, international terrorism, chemical threats, potential destabilisation of entire regions - these are the challenges we are looking at and these three big crises involve Iran, Syria and Mali," he said.