Kicking off Saturday, February 20, one of the world’s largest defense conferences and exhibitions, the International Defence Conference 2021 (IDEX-2021) in Abu Dhabi, is set to unveil a host of new defense technologies.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, for the first time, IDEX-2021 will be held in a hybrid format, with participants able to attend virtually or in-person. Over 200 delegates from 172 nations and more than 100,000 attendees are expected to show up at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre for the conference.
On the opening day of IDEX-2021, over 26 defense experts from 32 nations presented discussions on the theme: “The Prosperity and Development of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology and the Protection in the Era of the 4IR.” The term “4IR” being a trendy reference to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” or the period of rapid technological growth the world is currently experiencing.
“Today, we hold an excellent opportunity to discuss how to protect the development of artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technology. Furthermore, we can confer on how the pandemic has impacted supply chains for global private sector companies, including industries such as healthcare, transportation, and of course, defense,” said Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs in the UAE, during the conferences opening remarks.
Wrapping-up the speaker’s conference on Saturday, the focus now shifts to the technology exhibition. IDEX and its sister exhibition, NAVDEX (the Naval Defence and Maritime Security Exhibition), will run from February 21-25.
Featuring almost 105,000 sq feet (32,000 m) of indoor and outdoor exhibition space (including a water-front marina), over 1,250 different defense companies from all over the world will show off their latest and greatest new defense technologies.
A live demonstration area allows companies to show-off their new defense technologies in front of a live audience on both land and water.
Securing government contracts for their latest tech can ultimately translate into billions of dollars for the defense companies who will be on-hand trying to woo potential clients.
As is the nature of the beast in the defense industry, a number of the showcased new defense technologies, for varying reasons, may never see the light-of-day beyond IDEX-2021.
So while there’s no guarantee any of these new defense products will end up in one or more of the world’s defense fleets, The Debrief takes a look at some of the most interesting new defense technologies taking the stage at this year’s International Defence Conference.
Highland Systems Storm Armoured Hybrid Amphibious MPV
Highland Systems, a U.K.-based R&D project management company specializing in the development of state-of-the-art technology production, says their Storm MPV represents a revolution in tracked-vehicle technology and represents a combat vehicle capable of performing both on land and at sea.
Highland says, “all Storm vehicles can be configured with remote control systems allowing for autonomous operations.”
According to Highland, using a hybrid electric-diesel engine that can produce up to 2500 hp, the Storm MPV can achieve speeds up to 87 mph on land and 19 mph on the water. The Storm has a seating capacity of six passengers or crew members.
“Built for the harshest environments, the vehicle offers exceptional mobility, reliability and provides the latest technologies in ballistic, IED and mine blast protection,” reads a sales brochure provided to The Debrief by Highland Systems.
Until recently, the only evidence for the Storm MPV’s existence has been concept art put out by Highland Systems. However, on Saturday, February 20, the company released several images of a full-size Storm MPV demonstrator being loaded up on its way to IDEX 2021.
The Storm is not listed as one of the vehicles that will be performing a live demonstration during IDEX 2021. However, finally getting to see the hybrid amphibious up close, defense experts and analysts should have a better idea of whether indeed Highland Systems has achieved a significant breakthrough in vehicle-based defense technology.
Kia Light Tactical Cargo Truck
South Korean automobile manufacturer Kia revealed its brand new Light Tactical Cargo Truck (LTCT), a variant of its Light Tactical multi-purpose vehicle line-up.
Powering the four-wheel-drive Kia Light Tactical Cargo Truck is a 225 hp Euro 5 diesel engine, which uses a state-of-the-art 8-speed automatic transmission.
Kia says the vehicle’s modular chassis will enable the LTCT to come in several models, including standard and long-wheelbase, armored, and unarmored. The LTCT can be outfitted explicitly for various mission purposes, including tactical command and reconnaissance, target observation, or weapon installment.
With seating for four, according to Kia, with “superior mobility, outstanding durability and a high level of functionality,” the Light Tactical Cargo Truck has is optimized for military use. The vehicle also features run-flat tires and an electro-magnetic countermeasures system for secure communications.
Edge QX, RW-24 “Seeker” and Rash 2 Loitering Munitions
UAE defense company Edge premiered a host of new loitering munitions, the QX, RW-24 “Seeker,” and Rash 2.
The brand new QX family of loitering multirotor munitions comprises four products: QX-1, a micro UAV; QX-2, a mini-UAV, QX-4, a small UAV, and finally, the QX-4, which features vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing design.
In a press release, Edge says, “he precision-guided systems use sophisticated AI algorithms to target and strike, boasting an accuracy of 1 m CEP (circular error probable) – with an aim similar to laser guided munitions. Built to launch in any environment or terrain, the entire QX family of UAVs are lightweight, man portable, and comprise VTOL capabilities.
Edge also launched at IDEX-2021, three new additions to their existing RW-24 range loitering munitions. The RW024 “Seeker” houses a new thermal automatic seeker that enables greater engagement of moving targets and increased functionality within GPS-denied environments.
The RW-24 Extended Warhead and RW-24 Extend Range variants provide an increased payload capacity from 18 lbs (8 kg) to 29 lbs (13 kg), allowing the drone to carry a larger warhead or increased fuel capacity.
Not done revealing new defense technologies, Edge also debuted the Rash 2 fixed-wing guidance kit for mortars or other designed payloads on Day 1 of IDEX-2021. The Rash 2 is capable of gliding in flight, directing munitions to ground targets, and is available in differing sizes to accommodate varying payload capacities, ranges, and endurance.
Edge announced they had already secured a $55 million contract to supply Rash 2 to the UAE Armed Forces at the beginning of the conference.
According to a sales brochure provided to The Debrief, the SMASH 2000 Plus is a sophisticated electro-optical target acquisition and tracking system designed to be attached to small-arms weapons systems. Using advanced proprietary algorithms and sophisticated image processing software, the SMASH 2000 Plus dramatically increases a shooter’s ability to hit their intended target in all-weather and lighting conditions.
Based on the original SMASH 2000 system, the SMASH 2000 plus offers an additional advanced counter-unmanned aerial systems mode, giving individual ground troops an accurate hard-kill capability to counter emerging drone threats.
The SMASH Hopper Light is a remote-controlled weapons system that can be carried, assembled, and operated by a single person. “SMASH Hopper Light can be used in an extremely wide array of operational scenarios, providing the soldiers with a lethal, accurate and covert solution,” read a statement by Smart Shooter. “The combination of lightweight and compact size of the SMASH HOPPER LIGHT makes the system perfectly suitable for complex environments as well as situations where a low operational signature is required.”
A similar remote-controlled weapons system is believed to have been used by covert Israeli agents to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadah in late November 2020.
“With a unique ‘One Shot – One Hit’ capability, SMASH allows the operator to quickly and effectively neutralize any ground or airborne target, manned or unmanned,” says Smart Shooter.
ADASI AJBAN 440A and Scorpio Robotic Unmanned Ground Vehicles
In collaboration with NIMR, a sister company of the UAE’s Edge Group, ADASI revealed two brand new unmanned ground vehicles at IDEX-2021.
Varients of the company’s AJBAN 440A armored 4-door vehicle, ADSAI says their AJBAN Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) is a fully-armed remote-controlled armored vehicle. In a press release, ADASI says the new defense technologies can “withstand small arms fire, artillery shell splinters and survives mine and improvised explosive device (IED) blasts, and has a payload capacity of 1,200kg.”
A ground control station operates the tactical vehicle, with a communications range of 7.5 miles (12 km) and an endurance of up to eight hours. The top speed for the AJBAN Armed Robotic Vehicle is 31 mph (50 km/h). ADASI says the unmanned ground vehicle is designed to “support Armed Forces with greater firepower while ultimately reducing risk to soldier lives.”
At IDEX-2021, ADASI also launched the Scorpio-M, a mini-unmanned ground vehicle, and Scorpio-S, a small-unmanned ground vehicle.
ADASI says the Scorpio vehicles operate “stealthily” and can climb slopes and stairs at a gradient of 40-45 degrees. The unmanned ground vehicles can communicate with the autonomous control station at a range of up to almost two miles (3 km).
The Scorpio-M is lightweight and portable, with two hours of endurance and a payload capacity of up to 22 pounds (10 kg). The Scorpio-S can carry a payload of up to 220 lbs (100kg) and can be operated continuously for up to six hours. Additionally, supporting the Scorpio-M is an extendable 3.3 foot (1 m) robotic arm.
“Both UGVs were designed to support special force deployment, with the mini capable of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations in open-air and indoor urban environments, and the small created for more tactical, dual day-night functionality,” said a statement by ADASI.
Using augmented Artificial Intelligence and a remote system operator, Milrem claims the Type-X is the first purposefully designed unmanned combat vehicle, capable of supplementing troop formations or operating independently.
Milrem says the Type-X can be outfitted with several 25mm to 50mm autocannons. In June’s non-public demonstration, the Type-X was showcased with John Cockerill Protected Weapons Station Gen. II (CPWS II).
“The Type-X with the CPWS can be placed in the front and rear of a convoy to provide additional eyes and firepower for the convoy. Rarely does a convoy have available 25mm firepower and given the system is unmanned, tactics like rushing an ambush site, or maneuvering on the enemy’s position are now legitimate options for a convoy under fire,” said Simon Haye, the Chief Marketing Officer for John Cockerill Defense.
The Type-X RCV can also be outfitted with a multi-canister launcher capable of deploying UVision’s Hero-120 or Hero-400EC loitering munition systems. A telescopic rising antenna mast allows the Type-X to communicate with loitering munitions at a range of nearly 25 miles.
Additional concept art provided by Milrem Robotics shows different Types-X configurations, including variants for artillery and air radar, anti-aircraft, mortars, anti-tank, and cargo.
The Type-X can provide intelligent features such as follow-me, waypoint navigation, and obstacle avoidance using open architecture software.
“Eventually, combining self-driving unmanned logistics vehicles with the Type-X and you can reduce the personnel required for a convoy to a few operators, while actually increasing the capabilities of defending the convoy,” Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics said. “This is not just a leap forward in force protection but a force multiplier.”
The Kalashnikov Group, manufacturer of the most popular and widely used rifle in the world, the AK-47, presented the long-awaited AK-19 rifle at IDEX-2021.
First revealed at the International Military-Technical Forum in 2020, the AK-19 is a 5.56x45mm NATO variant of the 5.45x39mm AK-12. The AK-19 features an improved lightened telescopic stock, with improved iron sights and upper MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail for sights. The AK-19 has a non-detachable birdcage-type flash suppressor, with slots for a quick-detachable sound suppressor.
The total weight for the AK-19 is 7.39 lbs (3.35kg), with a barrel length of 16.3 in (415 mm) and a twist rate of 7.0 in (178mm). Standard 30 round box magazines feed the rifle.
“The AK-19 fires popular 5.56 mm cartridges, which are adopted by many countries. Therefore, our new assault rifle is an export-oriented item. By demonstrating the firearm at the IDEX defense show, we express our confidence in interest of foreign customers in the weapon: we are receiving the first requests for the firearm,” said CEO of the Kalashnikov Group Dmitry Tarasov.
Halcon HAS-250 Anti Ship Cruise Missile
Precision-guided weapons maker Halcon unveiled the Halcon AntiShip-250 (HAS-250) at IDEX-2021.
The HAS-250 is a surface-to-surface missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to 0.8 Mach and has a range of over 155 miles (250 km). Halcon says during its terminal phase, the missile can fly towards its target at a “sea-skimming altitude of below 16 feet (5 m).
The HAS-250 uses Global Navigation Satellite and Inertial Navigations Systems to hunt out its target and is equipped with an active/passive terminal seeker and radio altimeter.
“The HAS-250 is a significant advancement in our quest to equip naval forces with the highest performing cruise missile system. Designed and developed by HALCON in the UAE, this weapon will assist in the active defense of the UAE’s waterways and build on EDGE’s expanding reputation for being bold, agile, and disruptive,” said CEO of Halcon, Saeed Al Mansoori.
Announcing in January 2021, the new defense technology had reached the point of being a functional demonstrator vehicle; DITA can offer an unprecedented fire rate with only two crew members thanks to a high-level automated gun control system. DITA’s turret is fully autonomous. Aiming and setting the weapon into firing position are performed by the Automatic Setting of Action Position (A.S.A.P.) electronic guidance system.
The new self-propelled howitzer is equipped with a 155 mm L45 gun with a firing range of 24 miles (39 km) when using NATO HE base bleed standard ammunition. DITA is capable of carrying 40 rounds of ammunition in conveyors within the turret.
DITA uses a fully autonomous superstructure, meaning the weapon can be mounted on differing configurations, including a tracked chassis. With its standard 8×8 wheeled frame, Excalibur Army says DITA is capable of traveling on-road up to 55 mph (90 km/h).
AM General NXT 360 Humvee
AM General, the iconic Humvee manufacturer, will debut their latest interpretation of the multi-purpose light-tactical vehicle, the NXT 360.
According to AM General, the NXT 360 will leverage the existing and widely popular Humvee platform while incorporating additional enhancements that provide “360-degree kinetic energy threat protection.” The NXT 360 will come in two variants, a base model and a 6.5L V8 250 Hp turbocharged engine and improved long-travel suspension.
With versatile configurations for 2, 4, or 6 passenger variants, the NXT 360 will feature a new digital video camera system that delivers a 60-120 degree field of view life feed to LED displays, in-place of windows for backseat passengers.
Capable of being outfitted with multiple sensor types, the Terrahawk RWS is an all-weather onboard fire control system capable of full target tracking and ballistic compensation. Automated FCS cueing sensors, including shot detection and laser warning receivers, can be integrated with the Terrahawk system.
Not Making the Trip – Russia’s T-14 Armata Tank
Initially, Russian media said, state-run arms broker, Rosoboronexport, would be showcasing Russia’s new Armata family of next-generation combat vehicles, including the T-14 tank, at IDEX 2021.
Outside of brief parade displays and state-run media photos, the appearance of the T-14 at IDEX-2021 would have marked the first-time Russia would have unveiled its next-generation armored fighting vehicle to the world. However, shortly after saying the Armata would be at the defense expo, Russia reversed course, saying the T-14 would not be making the trip to Abu Dhabi “due to logistic problems arising from the COVID pandemic.”
Russian military expert, Alexey Khlopotov, offered another reason for the T-14’s absence, citing fears the tank might be “arrested” or effectively stolen.
“As I have already said more than once on social networks, this is not a full-fledged show, but just a demonstration of layouts (scale models of questionable copies). And why? Because there are good reasons to believe that our heavy equipment abroad may be arrested,” said Khlopotov.
Initially, the Russian Army planned to acquire 2,300 T-14s between 2015 and 2020. However, technical issues and fiscal shortfalls have dramatically reduced the number of Armatas produced. To date, only 20 T-14s are believed to be produced, with an additional 100 more on order and expected to be delivered some time in 2021.
Over 36 different weapons systems are scheduled to perform live demonstrations – including the MRAP-MAXXPRO, Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and Jobaria Rocket launcher – during the week-long exhibition.
American mega-defense corporations Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, are all in attendance for IDEX-2021. However, none of the corporations are expected to reveal any surprising new defense technologies.
With over a thousand defense companies on hand, the aforementioned new defense technologies are hardly a comprehensive list of all the novel systems that will make their debut in Abu Dubai. Considering the exhibition is just now getting underway, there may also be some unforeseen surprises still yet to come from IDEX-2021.
The Debrief will be keeping an eye on the happenings at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre this week. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, so you don’t miss any of the disruptive new defense technologies that may emerge from this year’s International Defence Conference.