The UAE’s Edge conglomerate has racked up multiple orders for precision guided munitions from its subsidiaries AL TARIQ and Halcon, which will supply Al Tariq, Desert Sting and Thunder weapons to the United Arab Emirates armed forces. These weapons were all developed with South African expertise.
Multiple contracts were announced during the recent IDEX defence show in Abu Dhabi. One of the smallest was worth AED1 billion ($272 million), for Al Tariq-LR (Long Range) precision guided munitions (PGMs), which will also include recent Block II upgrade features.
The Al Tariq started life as the Denel Dynamics Umbani (Lightning) guided bomb system, first test dropped off a South African Air Force Hawk in 2011. It became the first product of a joint venture between Denel Dynamics and Tawazun (now AL TARIQ under the Edge group). Al Tariqs have been supplied to the UAE Air Force, where it equips its Mirage 2000s and Hawks, and Egypt, for its Mirage 2000 and F-16 Fighting Falcons. Earlier this year AL TARIQ and India’s Bharat Dynamics Limited signed a memorandum of understanding for Al Tariq production in India.
Al Tariq is a modular family of precision guided munitions designed for the Mk 81, Mk 82, and Mk 83 (250 lb, 500 lb, 1 000 lb) aerial bombs, offering long stand-off ranges exceeding 120 km and multiple seeker options. The standard Al Tariq kit gives a range of up to 40 km while the Al Tariq-LR version has fold-out wings for a range of 120 km.
Saeed Al Mansoori, Senior Vice President of ADVANCED CONCEPTS, a new business unit within EDGE, said: “We are delighted to be supplying the UAE Armed Forces with Al Tariq-LR PGMs, which are amongst the best in the world in terms of range, accuracy and modularity. Our commitment is focused on providing a long-range PGM solution that enhances pilot safety while allowing high levels of operational flexibility. As an EDGE entity, we will continue to innovate and achieve our milestones in order to meet the requirements of the UAE Armed Forces and to safeguard national interests.”
An even larger contract (AED4.7 billion or $1.2 billion) was awarded to Edge subsidiary Halcon for the supply of Desert Sting 25 lightweight guided glide munitions to the UAE Armed Forces. The Desert Sting 25 is designed to be deployed on multiple racks on aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Desert Sting series evolved from the Denel Dynamics P2 low-cost medium range precision guided munition. This was developed at the request of Tawazun Dynamics for use aboard the UAE’s Seeker 200 and Seeker 400 UAVs. Halcon now manufactures the Desert Sting unpowered munitions series featuring an inertial navigation system and GNSS for navigation with an optional semi-active laser seeker. In November 2019 Halcon was awarded a $1 billion contract to supply Desert Sting 16 weapons to the UAE armed forces. A subsequent $880 million order was placed in 2021 with Edge for the supply of Thunder and Desert Sting weapons to the UAE armed forces.
A third contract announced in February, with Halcon, is worth AED2.14 billion ($570 million) and is to supply Thunder PGMs to the UAE Armed Forces. The weapons that will be supplied are Thunder P3 lightweight models, fitted with a semi-active laser (SAL) seeker.
The South African connection is also evident with the Sejeel/P3 guided bomb kit, developed by Tawazun/Barij and Denel Dynamics under a 2015 contract with the UAE. The bomb kit adds GNSS/INS and/or semi-active laser guidance to Mk 81 and Mk 82 bombs while the P4 (Thunder) kit is for Mk 84 series bombs. The Sejeel and P4 are now manufactured by Halcon as the Thunder P31 (Mk 81), Thunder P32 (Mk 82) and Thunder P4 (Mk 84). The UAE Air Force has to date ordered over 4 000 of these weapons.
Other contracts announced during IDEX 2023 covered Halcon Shadow 25, shadow 50, and Hunter loitering munitions for the UAE’s military. Combined, these contracts are worth AED2.4 billion ($653 million).