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Calidus Inks its First B-250 Light Attack Plane Order


ARAB DEFENSE INDUSTRY -- UAE aerospace company Calidus scored its first contract for the B-250 light attack aircraft on Nov. 20, when the United Arab Emirates placed an order for 24 planes at the Dubai Airshow. (baca)

The contract, worth AED 2.273 billion or about $260 million, represents the first time the UAE military has purchased a domestically-produced aircraft. The first B-250 plane was unveiled at Dubai Airshow 2017 and has since been shown at IDEX this past February and the 2018 Bahrain International Airshow.

The B-250 is a turboprop plane built for close air support, counter-terrorism activities, training and the collection of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

It was designed by Brazilian firm Novaer and has an operating cost of about $1,200 per flight hour, according to Calidus. It has an endurance of up to 10 hours and a maximum cruising speed of 350 knots.

Military aircraft orders have been light during Dubai Airshow 2019. Aside from Wednesday’s B-250 contract, the UAE announced on Tuesday its intention to buy two more GlobalEye airborne early warning and control planes from Saab, but final negotiations are still ongoing.

Qatar Sends 24 Armored Vehicles to Mali

Qatari armed forces have showcased latest acquisitions of combat vehicles including the 4x4 armoured vehicles Ejder Yalcın and NMS designed and manufactured by the Turkish Company Nurol Makina
Qatar has airlifted 24 armored vehicles to Mali, in a move it said would help the countries of the African Sahel region combat terrorism.

Qatar has increased efforts to show it is a force for good in international security since its Gulf Arab neighbors imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on it in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Qatari military planes delivered the vehicles, its foreign ministry said, adding the shipment would help "combat terrorism and establish security not only in the Republic of Mali but also in the African Sahel countries known as the G5."

The G5 of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania last year created a military taskforce to root out jihadist violence.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have agreed to provide about $150 million to the G5 Sahel force. (sumber)

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey Poised To Lead Emerging Middle East Space Industry

The Middle East is in the midst of a space boom, as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Turkey are poised to become regional leaders, experts contend. Israel and Iran have long been at the forefront of developing space technologies with the former set to become only the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon, and the latter successfully having launched a number of operational satellites in recent years.

Now, other nations are following suit.

The UAE is slated to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station in 2019. The country will also hold a Global Space Congress in March that will bring together private business industry leaders as well as officials from some 700 space agencies and related institutions. Notably, the Emirates’ Space Agency is planning to launch a probe called Hope that is scheduled to reach Mars in 2021, timed to coincide with the country’s 50th anniversary.

“The UAE is by far the leader in the region, with a range of communications and high-resolution Earth observation satellites in orbit,” Helen Jameson, Editor-in-Chief at the SpaceWatch Middle East digital magazine, related to The Media Line. “The UAE is also building the Mars Science City that will be a center for conducting scientific research into human habitats on Mars, as well as planetary science missions. The UAE has set an ambitious goal of helping humanity establish a human outpost on Mars by 2117.”

The $140-million Mars Science City is intended to simulate life on the red planet and will feature a 1.9 million-square-foot domed structure. Once completed, it will be the largest such structure ever created.

Another emerging industry leader in the Arab world is Saudi Arabia, which has boosted efforts to expand its space program through the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). In recent weeks, the organization launched two locally-made satellites for aerial surveying.

“Saudi Arabia is involved in the Chinese Chang’e lunar mission and has a fleet of communications satellites and is manufacturing increasingly sophisticated Earth observation satellites,” Jameson highlighted. “Other Arab countries with satellite programs include Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and Qatar, but none of these programs are anywhere near the scope and depth of the Emirati and Saudi programs.”

Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have few budgetary constraints impeding their long-term space ambitions, she underlined, unlike other regional players. The two countries are also relying on established space leaders to share their expertise such as the United States, Russia, France, Japan and China.

“Apart from Israel, the most advanced space program is that of the UAE, which has a space agency and has launched several satellites into space,” Tal Inbar, head of the Israel-based Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, told The Media Line. “The most recent is the Khalifa Sat that was built, designed and tested entirely internally.”

Inbar stressed that developing the capability to launch a satellite is an exceedingly difficult and expensive endeavor. While Israel was the first regional country to launch its own satellite 30 years ago, he explained, Iran only managed the same feat decades later in 2009.

“Most of the heavily-funded space initiatives in Israel are headed by the Ministry of Defense, so cooperation with other countries is very limited,” Inbar said, adding that the upcoming launch of the Genesis spacecraft in February 2019 will be Israel’s first attempt at a lunar landing.

Aside from the UAE and the Saudis, Inbar believes Turkey could also become a trailblazer.

“Ankara already has the ability to build satellites so it could be a very significant force in space in the next decade if it will have sufficient backing from the government and budget,” he remarked.

Earlier this month, Turkey formally unveiled a national space agency tasked with implementing a program based on policies outlined by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Despite the rapid growth of many Middle Eastern countries’ space programs, some argue that a more collaborative approach is needed for the industry to really take off.

“In general, there is neither a competition (space race), nor sufficient cooperation,” Ghanim Alotaibi, Regional Coordinator for the Middle East at the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), conveyed to The Media Line. “This is due to the fact that each country has a completely different space program with different missions and visions.

“Cooperation and working together are key challenges,” he asserted. “The Middle East can offer a lot to the wider international space community. To me, it is a disappointment to know that the region can be better.” (source)

Saudi Best Food

Saudi Arabia is not only known to the World as second largest oil producer and largest exporter but also the land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner. Top of the line is Kefta Kabob.


UAE to Develop the Serbian Arms Industry

Over the past two years the UAE has invested billions of dollars in Serbia.

The Emirati leadership has agreed lucrative deals to develop the Serbian arms industry; bought a significant stake in its national airline; and handed out multibillion dollar loans to the government.

The reasons for UAE investment in Serbia are shrouded in secrecy, although Serbian sources have revealed to MEE that they go far beyond any potential financial rewards.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been accused of acting as a proxy for the US and Israel in Eastern Europe while also attempting to exploit a loosely regulated Serbian arms market to distribute weapons across the Middle East.

Behind the huge investment lies the shadowy figure of exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan. He is said to be at the centre of a web facilitating communication between the UAE with American and Israeli intelligence figures while also aiding corrupt Emirati investments in Serbia that have lined the pockets of their political leaders.

UAE investments in Serbia

An agreement worth up to $200mn was signed between the Serbian arms company Yugoimport SDPR and the UAE’s Emirates Advanced Research and Technology Holding (EARTH) at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi last year.

A source in Serbia told MEE the investment relates to the Serbian missile system ALAS (Advanced Light Attack System), which is a “multipurpose anti-armour weapon with effective range up to 60km”. The source said the UAE is interested in these missiles because “they should be able to destroy all existing models of tanks in the world”.

The UAE is the fourth largest arms importer in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and spent over $19bn on military equipment in 2012. With a national population of fewer than one million the UAE, in terms of arms per capita, is now widely viewed as being the most heavily armed nation on the planet.

The UAE-Serbian defence relationship is becoming increasingly close, according to the Serbian source, who said “initial forms of cooperation have been established at the level of military security agencies, military police and special units, and in the fields of information and communication technologies and cyber defence”.

While the source said the UAE is primarily interested in Serbia’s burgeoning defence industry, the Emiratis have also made numerous other investments across several industries.

One of the most prominent deals has been Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways buying a 49 percent stake in Serbia’s lossmaking JAT Airways in August 2013. A new company was born out of that investment, Air Serbia, with the stated aim of creating an eastern European transportation sub-hub.

The deal, however, has been criticised as corrupt by a former economic advisor to the Serbian government.

“Etihad provided a credit note, not a direct investment, in the JAT deal that will later be converted to shares,” Dusan Pavlovic, who served as advisor to the Minister of Economy in Serbia from September 2013 to January 2014, told MEE. “The Republic of Serbia is the guarantor of this credit note and if the new company goes bust it is the Serbian people who will have to pay up the 40 million euros.”

“If this were to happen an additional two million euros would have to be paid in legal fees to a company involving people close to the Serbian prime minister,” he added.

Deals involving UAE investments in Serbia are kept secret from the public because of a condition in an agreement signed between the two governments in March 2013, according to Pavlovic.

“This agreement included provisions to overrule some domestic law in Serbia. For example, any investment that comes from the UAE is given priority over local deals,” he said.

“The agreement for UAE investments in Serbia stipulates that the details of all deals must remain secret.”

Pavlovic slammed many of the most high-profile Emirati investments and criticised the Serbian government for lying to their people.

He described a proposed multibillion dollar property investment by the Emiratis in Belgrade as “totally absurd”, saying “there simply isn’t the market for luxury apartments” in a country as poor as Serbia.

He criticised the sale of agricultural land to the UAE worth hundreds of millions of dollars as preventing local Serbians from accessing huge farming areas, condemning the government’s claim that the land was derelict as a “complete lie”. (middleeasteye)

Bangladesh-Kuwait Step up Ties

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stressed the strengthening Bangladesh-Kuwait ties.

She also urged Muslim nations to take a united stand on the current crisis in Gaza.

She said this when Deputy Chief of Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed forces, Lt Gen Khaled Mohammed Al-Kheder, called on her at her office on Wednesday.

The prime minister’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury, told reporters that Hasina had described the Bangladesh-Kuwait bilateral relations as “very good”.

She recalled the then Kuwait Emir’s visit to Bangladesh in 1974 and taking Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the OIC summit.

After that visit, the relation between the countries began to develop, Chowdhury quoted Hasina as saying.

During the Awami League’s 1996-01 term, the Middle Eastern country provided Bangladesh $200 million at a time when the foreign reserve was low.

She said the two countries have to increase bilateral visits among their armed forces personnel to “enhance ties between the armed forces of the two brotherly countries”.

Hasina said Kuwait armed forces personnel could receive higher education and training at various renowned institutions in Bangladesh.

Let Gen Al-Kheder expressed gratitude for the Bangladesh Army’s assistance in mine sweeping operations after the Gulf War.

He said the armed forces personnel in Kuwait were working very skilfully.

"We are very pleased," Chowdhury quoted him as telling the prime minister.

Al-Kheder said the armed forces personnel would remain in Kuwait as long as his country needed them.

Kuwait’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Ali Ahmed Ebrahim, was present at the meeting. (bdnews24)

Royal Army of Oman Music Band participates in 'Tattoo Edinburgh 2014' festival

The music band of the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) concluded its participation in 'Tattoo Edinburgh 2014' festival, which was held at Edinburgh, Scotland, with the participation of a number of European music bands.

The mayor of Edinburgh handed over a shield to the RAO Music Band in appreciation of their participation — the only Arab participation in the festival. The RAO Music Band presented a musical show while walking at the Stirling City Center amidst a big audience that expressed admiration of the diverse military music shows. (timesofoman)

Jordan Wants to Make Russian Helicopters

Jordan is interested in locally assembling Russian-designed helicopters and anti-tank missile systems, an official from Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Friday.

“Our Jordanian colleagues have shown interest in setting up domestic assembly of portable Kornet anti-tank missile systems and several types of helicopters,” said Mikhail Zavaly, head of the Rosoboronexport delegation at the Dubai Air Show 2013.

Russia’s Kornet-E system, produced for export, has a firing range of up to 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) and features semi-automatic laser-beam guidance with a thermal imaging site.

The system, armed with missiles using dual warheads with shaped charges, is highly effective against tanks with reactive or explosive armor. It could also be used effectively against fortified buildings and helicopters, according to the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau.

Jordan has already launched licensed production of Russian-designed RPG-32 portable rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The plant, which manufactures RPG-32 Hashim launchers, is located about 20 kilometers northeast of Jordan’s capital, Amman. It has been built and equipped by the Jordanian side, whereas Russia’s Rosoboronexport is supplying components for the assembly of the grenade launchers and is overseeing the production process. (RIA)

Understanding Egyptian Military's Economic Empire

It is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the Egyptian government's principle sources of hard currency.

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi announced a $4bn project this week to boost the Suez canal's shipping capacity, cut transit times and help Egypt's ailing economy.

Sisi has also said that the military will oversee the Suez project - in concert with an expanding military role in Egypt's economy.

Much of the Egyptian's military's financial dealings are unknown. Its budget is secret and its industries are unaudited and untaxed.


BAE Systems to Upgrade Saudi Aircraft

The long-expected follow-on order from Saudi Arabia for Eurofighter Typhoons has still not materialized, but in its half-yearly report BAE Systems revealed that it expects to receive orders worth about $2.2 billion to upgrade Saudi aircraft. Earlier this year, a protracted renegotiation of the original “Al Salam” deal for 72 aircraft was finally concluded. BAE Systems plans to deliver 12 Typhoons to Saudi Arabia this year, and continues work on the contract with Oman for 12 aircraft, for delivery from 2017. But contrary to last year’s British hopes, no orders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar or the UAE have been announced.

Meanwhile, in the Airbus D&S in-house journal, Domingo Urena Raso, the company’s head of military aircraft, wrote, “We need to add capabilities to the Eurofighter—like the E-scan radar for instance—and make it more attractive both for our home countries and for export.” He continued, “There is no need to panic; we have known for 10 years that Eurofighter production will end in 2018.” At the recent Farnborough airshow, the Eurofighter consortium displayed the prototype, industry-funded E-scan radar. In the half-yearly report, BAE Systems confirmed that the British government has signed a three-year contract worth more than $120 million “to de-risk E-scan radar development for the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fleet ahead of the award of a full-scale development contract.”

Two months ago, BAE Systems announced a reorganization of its interests in Saudi Arabia into a holding company, OMC, in which it will retain a 51-percent interest. Riyadh Wings Aviation Academy, already a partner of the British company, will own the other 49 percent. BAE said that the growth prospects of its training company (SDT, 98 percent owned), electronics company (AEC, 50 percent owned) and IT systems engineering company (ISE, 90 percent owned) would be enhanced by bringing them into a single holding company. BAE Systems chief executive Ian King said the enhanced relationship with Riyadh Wings demonstrates the company’s “ongoing commitment to support the national agenda of developing an indigenous defense industry.”


No Military Operation in Libya, Sisi Says

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi denied on Sunday 24/8/2014 that the Egyptian Armed Forces had carried out any military operation inside the Libyan lands.

At a meeting with editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers and the Middle East News Agency, Sisi refuted reports circulated by the Doha-based Aljazeera channel in this regard, saying "We did not carry out any military operation outside our borders till now".

"Our forces are stationed inside our territories," he added.

The President stressed that Egypt is concerned about the security of the Libyan lands and is holding necessary consultations with Algeria, Tunisia and other neighboring countries to find a political solution that would bring about stability in Libya. (SIS)

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