Missile and Air Defence Symposium in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // More than 300 local and international defence experts will gather in Abu Dhabi today to discuss ways of shaping a multinational integrated air and missile defence architecture in the Gulf.
Organised by the Ministry of Defence, the Middle East Missile and Air Defence Symposium will host delegates from around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the US, France, Sweden and Nato.
Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said delegates would address issues such as threats posed by ballistic and cruise missiles, and artillery rockets.
“We’re addressing the issue at operational and strategic levels and the technologies that are being developed today for both ends,” he said. “This means the latest in missile technology, how they’re becoming smarter, how some of them have multiple warheads, some of the cruise missiles becoming supersonic and what technology is doing [to increase] defenders’ capability to deal with all these modern, high-tech threats.”
He said those threats posed a challenge that required militaries worldwide to continuously review procedures and capabilities.
“They have to see what has become obsolete in their assets, what needs to be upgraded and what is new out there to be acquired,” Mr Kahwaji said. “And these conferences provide a platform for commanders, technicians, the industry and the end-user to exchange views. They have to ensure they have the inter-operability to carry out joint operations that would entail missile and air defence.”
Missile threats are not limited to the Arabian Gulf.
“They are international,” he said. “Today, all modern militaries are looking at this because ballistic and cruise missiles have proliferated all over the world and it has become the favourite weapon for countries that cannot build a strong air force, so you have an international concern.”
He said many countries were trying to cooperate with their neighbours to develop regional integrated missile-defence systems.
“The GCC, which is a region that is strategically important – the richest in oil and gas and a rising economy – invites many foreign threats that require these countries to be very well prepared with strong military deterrence capabilities,” said Kahwaji said.
Lt Gen Lawrence Farrell, retired from the US air force and president of the National Defence Industrial Association, said the Gulf faced real security challenges.
“Because the UAE is small, it’s easily accessible by air, boat or over land,” he said. “So you have a coastline to protect but it has access to some of the best technologies in the world so it makes a lot of sense for it to invest in them because of its geographical location.”
He said the UAE was leaning forward to do business.
“A robust defence and security capability means there’s a lot less chance that you’re going to fight,” Mr Farrell said. “If you’re weak you’re inviting trouble and the UAE is in a pretty tough neighbourhood so it’s better to be robust than weak.”
The symposium concludes tomorrow.
Updated: April 26, 2014 04:00 AM