Despite the fact that global arms sales are down, the International Defence Exhibition & Conference, or IDEX, is underway in the United Arab Emirates. The biennial arms and defence technology sales exhibition is where the world’s defense industry shows off their wares. This year in addition to the tanks, planes, and aircraft the big attraction is of course unmanned systems, otherwise known as drones.
In years past countries from throughout region have used the occasion to spent millions on defense equipment. In 2005, the UAE inked deals worth $358 million; signing contracts with German firms Rohde and Schwarz Gmbh for a $144 million upgrade to their army’s communications systems. Other countries completed multimillion dollar sales including Jordan and Kuwait. In 2007, Saudi Arabia ordered $50 billion in military hardware, including fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, attack helicopters and tanks.
This year, the UAE has reportedly made 17 different deals valued at $1.4 billion. The deals included a contract with the American Oshkosh Corporation to provide 750 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs). Other contracts included one with the Russian KBP to buy ammunition, and another with Tawazun to purchase laser guided missile. The most noteworthy is the $197 million contract to a UAE company to buy an export version of the General Atomics Predator drone.