IDEX 2019: UAE announces $1.3 billion in defense deals

The United Arab Emirates Armed Forces announced more than $1.3 billion in both orders for new equipment and sustainment of existing ones at the 2019 International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.

Some of the highlights include $355 million worth of Patriot SAMs for the UAE Air Force and Air Defense Force, a $39 million award to the Russian Joint Stock Company for EM150 Kornet antitank missiles for the UAE Army, and a $109 million deal with Lockheed Martin to upgrade radars in the UAE Air Force, presumably for the country’s F-16 fighter fleet.

The deals, announced on the first day of the huge exposition in the UAE’s capital city, also included more than $300 million worth of awards to local companies. Highlights included a $2.1 million contract with NIMR automotive for vehicle maintenance and a $15 million deal with Al Fattan Ship Industries to purchase an unnamed amount of vessels for the UAE Navy.

In total, 15 of the 33 deals announced, totalling $1.05 billion, were with international companies, while 18, totalling $300 million, were with local countries.

The makeup of the announced deals also offers a window into the unique place in the world’s militaries that the UAE occupies, operating a mix of America, European, Russian, and Chinese equipment. What’s notable is that at past shows like IDEX, many announced deals for the UAE Armed Forces were for new equipment, but this year, a vast majority were for support. That marks a big shift as the UAE appears to be pivoting to supporting existing systems, not just buying new ones continually.