DUBAI --- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is making a push to develop high-tech military hardware that would give it control over critical defense capabilities and lessen reliance on imports.
Wary of threats from rival Iran, and concerned over moves by some allies to hold up arms sales, the UAE is reshaping a military industry already seen as the region’s most sophisticated.
State defense companies have been brought together to form EDGE, a $5-billion conglomerate to spearhead development of advanced weapons for the country’s military.
Those ambitions were put on display at this week’s Dubai Airshow where the military handed an EDGE company a $1 billion contract for guided [weapons].
“Like many countries, on specific critical capabilities you want to have sovereignty,” EDGE Chief Executive Faisal al-Bannai told Reuters.
The UAE’s defense industry dates back two decades, built through joint ventures and technology transfer programs. Much of it now sits under EDGE, manufacturing drones, small ammunitions and providing maintenance.
Despite close ties with the West, the oil-rich Gulf nation has had difficulty acquiring some sophisticated weapons. (end of excerpt)
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