By Rory Jones www.thenational.ae
The first military vehicle to be fully made in the UAE was unveiled yesterday at the International Defence Exhibition (Idex) in Abu Dhabi.
The Tiger armoured vehicle was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in his visit to the stand of Tawazun Holding, the headline sponsor of Idex.
Made by the Nimir Auto Company, a Tawazun subsidiary in Abu Dhabi, the armoured and non-armoured versions of the vehicle have been passed as fit for the UAE Armed Forces, the WAM news agency reported.
The UAE Ministry of Interior is expected to sign contracts with the manufacturer to acquire the vehicle.
The unveiling marks a visible shift in the defence priorities of the UAE from its traditional role as a buyer to a provider of services.
A new generation of well funded, state-supported companies related to defence are developing as part of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision to create a highly skilled workforce and a knowledge-based economy.
Mark Thompson, the business development director for Babcock International, based in the UK, said the Tiger was “clear evidence” of this trend.
“What’s happening here is that through selective partnerships with international players, the UAE is developing its own provider and manufacturing capabilities,” Mr Thompson said. “This vehicle is a testament to those moves.”
The high mobility four and six-wheel multipurpose Tigers can accommodate the most sophisticated telecommunications, remote-sensing and weaponry systems and is being tipped as a competitor to the US Humvee, generally deemed the world’s number one military vehicle.
The all-terrain Tiger has elicited overwhelming interest from defence experts in the Arab world, Gulf region and African countries, WAM said.
Tawazun, a holding company that is owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, has created a gun maker, Caracal, which has contracts in the UAE and other Middle East countries.
It has also set up Al Burkan, which produces munitions, and Tawazun’s Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments is expected to introduce unmanned aerial, land and marine platforms in the coming years.
Tawazun said that with the unveiling of the Tiger, the UAE had proved its competence and efficiency in the defence industry.