DUBAI AIRSHOW — As the Dubai Airshow concluded its 18th edition last week, the sprawling UAE defense conglomerate EDGE Group said it inked at least $1.8 billion in deals over the last few days, with the Emirati military as a key customer.
Though EDGE did not provide dollar values on every agreement, the lion’s share of that dollar figure is due to a $1.1 billion (4.1 billion AED) arrangement EDGE signed with the UAE Ministry of Defense for aircraft munitions. For that deal, EDGE subsidiary Lahab Defence Systems will produce and deliver the Mk. 81, Mk. 82, Mk. 83 and Mk. 84 air-to-ground munitions.
“This contract … reflects our ambitions to develop capabilities that meet future needs in the long term. We look forward to continuing to provide support and strengthening our commitment to the Ministry of Defence,” said Hamad Al Marar, president of EDGE’s Missiles & Weapons unit.
The MoD also contracted for some $132.6 million (487 million AED) in EDGE subsidiary Adasi’s RASH 2M and 2H “modular glider” systems designed to convert “dumb” munitions into precision-guided ones.
EDGE Group is only four years old, but now consists of more than 25 subsidiaries, along with interests in foreign firms as far away as Estonia and Brazil. That Brazilian firm, smart weapon-maker SIATT, obtained a contract this week for $300 million (1.1 billion AED) in MANSUP surface-to-surface missiles from the UAE government and another from the Brazilian navy worth $160 million (600 million AED).(MANSUP missiles are co-developed between SIATT and the Brazilian navy.)
“EDGE is continuously pushing the boundaries to become a major market player in high-tech defence systems,” Mansour AlMulla, EDGE’s managing director, said in a statement. “Our expanding partnerships in Brazil, particularly with the Brazilian Navy, are enabling us to leverage our experience and expertise to develop advanced defence capabilities and other related technologies across multiple domains. We are confident that the MANSUP-ER system will disrupt the domination held for years by existing incumbent solutions.”
Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor at the Gulf State Analytics think tank, told Breaking Defense that EDGE’s deals this year signal a new chapter for the firm and its platforms.
“The key here will be about actual production, training and deployment. EDGE in Brazil is of key interest because it serves as a model for other EDGE relationships with other countries. EDGE needed time to grow and now there may be an expansion that also helps local industries especially in the MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] arena. Technology sharing and lessons learned become key,” he said.
EDGE didn’t reveal the dollar figure to go a deal with the UAE MoD for 100 REACH-S surveillance fixed-winged unmanned systems, which are made by subsidiary Halcon and were on display at the show. Gramoosha unmanned rotary wing surveillance UAV, produced by subsidiary Adasi, received a $65.07 million (239 million AED) deal from the MoD as well. The Garmoosha was the first unmanned system developed by UAE, even before the launch of EDGE Group.
Just prior to the start of the airshow, EDGE said it acquired a Swiss unmanned rotary craft maker, and during the show the conglomerate’s HT-100 unmanned chopper saw an order from an unidentified foreign customer.
“Unmanned systems are a key part of EDGE Group’s production and sales strategy. It will remain to be seen as to whether or not production is able to keep up with this demand, but it does seem like it’s marginal enough and not taking place in the backdrop of a major conflict that that would be achievable,” Ryan Bohl, Senior Middle East and North Africa Analyst at the RANE Network, told Breaking Defense.