Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tawazun to showcase UAE defence technology overseas

The strategic defence investment company Tawazun will this year display local defence technology overseas.

The company, launched in 2007, will show locally developed weapons and defence technology in the US, Brazil, France and the Far East.

“Entering any defence market with such products is not easy but people have started to see UAE-made products as proof that Emiratis are capable of entering any market and our portfolio speaks for itself,” said Saif Al Marzooqi, Tawazun’s associate corporate communications director.

Mr Al Marzooqi was speaking on a tour of the five factories at Tawazun Industrial Park on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The five subsidiaries owned by Tawazun make airframes for Airbuses, guns and ammunition for armed and police forces in the UAE, Italy and across the GCC, and motor vehicles for the Algerian armed forces.

Mr Al Marzooqi said most of the workforce was Emirati, including the design and development team.

“Fifty five per cent of our team is Emirati and we present them with work-study programmes that combine rigorous education, training and on-the-job work experience, as well as the Daylight programme that enables UAE women to develop key skills for employment and trains them in basic engineering skills,” he said.

The target is to provide UAE nationals with the proper education to meet the needs of the emerging industries in the UAE.

Emirati designs include the TSR rifle, considered one of the most advanced sniper weapons in today’s market, said Sultan Al Aouda, deputy general manager of Tawazun Advanced Defence Systems.

“The rifle is 100 per cent fully Emirati-designed and developed,” he said. “We designed it based on the requirements given to us by the UAE Armed Forces.”

The period from development to the delivery of the 2,800-metre range rifle was only nine months, Mr Al Aouda said.

The weapon, which comes in two versions, has four unique patents within its design.

It is equipped with a shock absorber in the shoulder mount and a design to increase accuracy.

Another subsidiary that produces UAE-developed weapons is Caracal. More than 50,000 handguns and rifles are produced every year by Caracal and are used locally and across the GCC.

“We export our guns to the Italian police force as well as to the US consumer market,” said Salem Al Matroushi, chief executive of Caracal.

Caracal’s assembly line includes 18 Emirati women.

Ammunition for the guns is developed by Caracal Light Ammunitions  (CLA), which makes more than 10 million Nato-standard bullets of various calibre, said Mohammed Al Ghafli, CLA’s general manager.

“We have over 50 Emiratis currently working in the factory and we will be shortly adding another 110 during this year,” said Mr Al Ghafli.

Many of the recruits are non-graduates who were trained in-house.

The parts for all of the weapons and tools used to make them are developed and made at Tawazun Precision Industries (TPI).

“Apart from guns and rifle components such as barrels, we develop oil and gas materials and aerospace parts,” said Majid Al Shamsi, sales manager for TPI Aerospace.

“We develop airframes for Airbus as well as parts for Boeing aircraft.”

Stewart Jones, TPI’s defence business unit manager, said the company was working closely with local universities to develop the next generation of industrial leaders.

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