1. As one of Europe's leading suppliers of defence technology systems, Rheinmetall also has a robust presence in the Middle East. At this year's IDEX, your company will be showcasing a wide array of products and services…
AH: That's very true. We see IDEX as an opportunity to give our customers a clearer idea of what we can do to bolster their military security. As far as we're concerned, IDEX is one of the most important trade fairs around. We certainly look forward to welcoming numerous important delegations to this year's show, and are eager to present our latest products and systems.
2. Where do you see the most promising opportunities in the region?
AH: To cite just one example: there's still plenty of potential for networked air defence systems that include an intelligent battle management system. Rheinmetall has some outstanding solutions in its portfolio here. We could either help to upgrade the combat effectiveness of existing systems or replace them altogether with new technology.
But the same is true of the rest of our product spectrum: given our wide range of systems and equipment we're able to respond to customer requirements very flexibly and are currently involved in promising talks on all kinds of projects. This also goes for our bid to modernize the Al Hamra firing range. In cooperation with Theissen Training Systems, Rheinmetall has proposed a comprehensive concept carefully tailored to the customer's needs. We hope to be able to implement it in the near future.
3. You mentioned the possibility of upgrading existing air defence systems. How long have you been active in the region?
AH: Yes – and very successfully with a quite a number of products. It's certainly true that our Swiss subsidiary Oerlikon Contraves has been a major supplier of air defence products in the region for decades. But Rheinmetall also supplies countries in the region with various vehicles, vehicle armament and ammunition types. One of our armoured vehicles, the Condor, has been in service in Kuwait for years. The United Arab Emirates will soon be taking delivery of the first of a total of 32 Fox armoured NBC reconnaissance vehicles.
The Kuwaiti Navy has recently opted to buy our MLG 27 light naval gun, and the naval forces of the UAE trust in our Mass self-defence system to protect their Bayunah-class multipurpose missile corvettes. And I'm very happy to note sustained interest around the region in the MLG 27.
What's more, our sophisticated simulation systems for instruction and training have also proved highly successful in the region. And we continue to be active in providing specialized training in the operation, maintenance and repair of new and previously supplied systems.
4. The Condor and NBC Fox are already well known in the Middle East. What other vehicles will you have on display at IDEX?
AH: For the first time in the region we'll be displaying the Gavial, the Yak and the Tokeh. These vehicles are ideally suited to the requirements of the modern military, offering an excellent balance of survivability, mobility and flexibility. Take the Tokeh, for example, which we designed specifically to meet the needs of special operations forces. As well as being extremely mobile on the ground, it can be airlifted in an NH 90 transport helicopter. As for the Gavial, it can protect its four-man crew from small arms fire, landmines and NBC threats. Moreover, it's light enough to be airlifted into the area of operations in a medium-sized transport helicopter either as internal or external cargo. The Yak's modular design means that it can be configured for numerous roles, including as an armoured personnel carrier, for example, or used for transporting supplies or in a medivac capacity.
5. Naval Applications is another important point of emphasis for you at this trade fair...
AH: True, we'll be presenting quite a number of naval system solutions, ranging from our Mass Multi Ammunition Softkill System to the MLG 27 light naval gun. We'll be displaying this gun in combination with intelligent fire control electronics, which together form a "mini-combat system".
6. So you'll have sensors on show as well...
AH: That's right. We'll be presenting the MLG 27 light naval gun in a networked array coupled with advanced sensor systems: our Fast Infrared Search and Track sensor (First) and the multi sensor platform MSP 500 – both of them state-of-the-art sensor systems for naval and ground forces. We expect demand for networked systems to be particularly strong in coming years – and we're ready.
7. What exactly do you mean by "Combat Support"? Does this have to do with system solutions for ground forces?
AH: Indeed it does – from the latest NBC detection technology – the NBC-Fox for UAE Armed Forces – and force protection systems to simulation-supported, deployment-oriented training, Rheinmetall is making a major contribution to keeping troops deployed in harm's ways as safe as possible. As we see it, "Combat Support" is a wide-ranging field of activity where Rheinmetall is able to offer a variety of highly effective, innovative systems. Networked command and control systems and reconnaissance drones are just as much a part of this as the SMArt 155 mm, our intelligent sensor-fused ammunition.
8. You also attach special importance to training technology, don't you?
AH: Of course. Our high-tech simulation system for military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) is specially adapted to the new operating environment of the armed forces, and has sparked a great deal of international interest. Furthermore, we'll be presenting our new Action Speed Tactical Trainer (ASTT) at the show, which is used for instructing and training naval personnel in tactics, procedures and decision-making. Incidentally, ASTT is already in service with navies around the globe.
9. We gather that the KZO, the world's most advanced reconnaissance UAV, will also be on hand...
AH: You're right. The KZO, which has just entered service with the Bundeswehr, supplies its accompanying ground station with precise, comprehensive information in real time. Apart from its role as a source of battlefield intelligence, the KZO can also perform other missions – keeping an eye on international borders, for example. This also goes for the Opale system, an aircraft packed with reconnaissance equipment that can fly with or without a pilot.
10. Two years ago you successfully demonstrated your intelligent sensor-fused round, SMArt, in the UAE.
AH: It's true. SMArt attained a 100% success rate with the UAE's G6 weapon system and its associated propelling charge system. At the same time, we were also able to demonstrate SMArt's effectiveness in a target scenario under hot desert conditions: firing a total of seven rounds, we were extremely successful in handling this task as well. In fact it was an artillery crew from the UAE who fired the rounds at Al Qua'a. So we hope that we've paved the way for future procurements of SMArt ammunition in the Middle East.
11. Rheinmetall is the world's leading supplier of close-range air defence systems...
AH: That's a fair assessment. We'll be on hand at IDEX with various system solutions relating to close-range air defence. Apart from Oerlikon Contraves' Skyguard 3 and Skyshield, we'll also be showcasing Asrad, the weapons platform of Germany's new LeFlaSys light air defence system and the various export versions derived from it. Asrad can fire both infrared- and laser-guided missiles.
Teamed with the company's tried-and-tested 35 mm GDF twin gun, the new Skyguard fire control system forms a highly effective, state-of-the-art air defence system. Particularly when firing programmable Ahead ammunition, it's more than a match for anything that flies – and that goes for future aerial targets, too.
12. This is the first time at an IDEX show that your new topic of "Public Security" has featured...
AH: Civil defence has become an extremely important concern in the countries of the Middle East. We've assigned ourselves the task of working out effective protection concepts, often based on our military expertise. Today, our Public Security unit focuses primarily on protecting critical infrastructure and assets, as well as coastal and harbour defence and border control, of course. We're convinced that we can play a leading role in this domain too.