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IDEX has become one of the largest military gatherings in the world: Mohammed bin Zayed

posted on 17/03/2001: 2156 views


The International Defence Exhibition, IDEX, has made its presence felt around the world as a source of latest military knowledge and expertise. These remarks were made by Lt. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Armed Forces Chief of Staff, in an interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, on the occasion of the opening of the IDEX 2001 on Sunday. He said the exhibition will this year focus on latest military technology and upgrading of military hardware in the GCC countries. He affirmed that the GCC states had the intention of strengthening their defence capabilities to protect their achievements and maintain peace and stability in the region. Following is the text of the interview:



Question: Within a short span of time the UAE has become renowned for successful organisation of defence exhibitions, what is new in IDEX 2001?



Answer: The defence exhibitions organised by the UAE over the last few years, such as IDEX, represent important opportunities for concerned visitors to acquaint themselves with the latest developments in defence systems and equipment technology because of the large number of exhibitions and high quality of diversified products on show. IDEX has made its mark as a source of defence knowledge worldwide, and as a high-level specialised forum for discussion of modern military theories and diversified technical issues. It also provides a good opportunity for a major weapon manufacturing companies to present their new products. This year, more than 760 companies specialised in the defence industry from 44 countries, are expected to participate in IDEX 2001, as well as 63 official delegations. This year, the focus will be concentrated on the latest technologies in the military field, and on the military equipment modernisation programmes in the GCC states. The size and number of places available for exhibitors has increased this year thanks to the good diplomatic relations of UAE with many countries.



Q: While there is much talk about peace, Gulf expenditure on armaments is increasing. How can you explain this phenomenon in the light of reports indicating that the Gulf region is still the most important world defence procurement market?



A: Contemporary and modern historical experience has proved that the GCC states have never been a source of threat, and have never initiated any assault against another country. However, any country should have the capability to deter any threat or aggression and defend its national interests and sovereignty, as weakness prompts others to try to impose their hegemony and control. In this context, we can explain what is described as an increase in GCC states expenditure or armament by saying that they are working hard to build their self-defence capabilities to protect their achievements and maintain peace and stability in the region. Every analysis of the Gulf political and military behaviour confirms this reality. The defence and military capabilities are enhanced in line with each member country's policy as part of the overall development of the country and according to a constant vision and specified timetable.



Q: The UAE, under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is carrying out its plans for rebuilding, development and modernisation of its Armed Forces so that they may play their role in defending the country and its achievements. What are the main plans?



A: Development and modernisation of our Armed Forces is based on acquiring the capability to participate effectively in achieving national security and defending our vital and strategic interests, within a context of supporting regional and international security and stability. So our strategic plans aim to equip our armed forces with the defence capabilities and the latest armament technologies, so as to enable our country to play its role in supporting brotherly and friendly countries and deter any possible threats to its national security. Accordingly, the development plans and armament strategy constitute a natural reflection of the country's political and military will. Therefore, we are adopting long range strategic planning for armament policy, aiming to develop all land, naval, air and air defence services of the Armed Forces according to the requirements of the modern joint operations management. There is an executive programme for this under the title Liwa (brigade), which began in 1995, and will continue until 2005, according to a set of ceiling of expenditure to ensure a balance between defence requirements and the latest military technologies without exaggeration. As regards to the air force, this programme concentrates mainly on acquiring the latest modern technologies in this field and multi-service aeroplanes, so that the UAE air forces could become a strategic strong force capable of deterring any threat facing the country and defending its skies. Work is also under way to develop the naval forces to control our territorial waters by acquiring suitable deterrent weapons. The land forces development has focussed on improving defence and fighting capabilities under different circumstances and all types of terrain. This includes development and support of our armoured forces and mechanisation of the other elements of modern joint weapon operations. In implementing this programme, we have adopted a policy of diversification of weapon sources to guarantee that we obtain requirements without any limits on our political and military will in taking our national security decisions related to our national security.



Q:Is it true that the UAE has held back from completing the Leclerc tanks deal with France? Can Your Excellency elaborate on this?



A: Any armament deal for our Armed Forces is subject to many standards, most important of which are our established armament policy and our plans and strategies to build modern armed forces capable of keeping abreast with the latest sophisticated military technology developments. The Leclerc deal is within this context. A comprehensive evaluation has been conducted of the technical characteristics and operational specifications of this type of French tank. It has proved to its high-level effectiveness in operations in under hot weather conditions and desert terrain. There is a battalion of Leclerc tanks from the UAE Armed Forces taking part in the UN Peacekeeping forces in Kosovo (KFOR). So though our determination to continue the implementation of our armament strategy, and our contracts to guarantee standardisation of our equipment and weapons, I can assure you that the UAE has not held back Leclerc tanks deal with France. These tanks represent the latest developments in military technology covering all systems of mobility, armour, firing management, command, control, communications and self protection, electronic warfare, global aviation and the ability to work in conditions where weapons of mass destruction are being used. In addition, we have excellent relations with the French Armed Forces and a joint military committee was established to boost military co-operation between the two countries.



Q: When will the UAE receive F-16 fighter from the USA?



A: In fact, the process of evaluation to choose the best fighter for our Armed Forces has continued for almost 5 years. We concentrated our attention on F-16 after conducting a technical and quality comparison between different types of fighters of the same efficiency and specifications such as Eurofighter, the French Rafae, and the Russian Sukhoi. Several experiments were carried out on the F16, 93 tests flights have been conducted over a 5 year period, 36 of them in the UAE, to guarantee that it is suitable for the technical and operational requirements of our air forces in the new millennium, taking into consideration the size and type of the expected threat in the future due to significant technological developments. We have also presented a list of requirements which should be available in these fighters to manufacturing companies for study so they can decide whether they will be able to include them. This is what happened during the discussions and negotiations with the American Lockheed Martin Company. These talks continued for 4 years before signing the deal in March 2000. The UAE Air Forces will receive the first of these fighters in 2004 and delivery will be complete by 2008. I would like to note that acquiring these state-of-the-art fighters would not have been achieved without the wise policy adopted by H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who has spared no effort to put the UAE in a distinguished regional and international position, seeking to secure peace and stability worldwide.



Q: Observers expect several new armament deals to be signed by the UAE in IDEX 2001. Are these expectations true?



A: IDEX 2001 is like all other specialised defence exhibitions. It is not organised with the aim of gaining direct benefits from participating international defence industry companies. Its major objective is to provide all facilities and services to exhibitors and provide the opportunity for experts and military decision makers worldwide to get together and exchange views. At the same time, IDEX is also a suitable opportunity for making armament deals for any country including the UAE. If announcement of such deals coincides with IDEX that does not mean that they were decided coincidentally or at random. It is well known that armament contracting is a long phased technical and operational complicated process, as part of which several studies, researches, technical checking and committee work are carried out. So signing any deals at IDEX will be a culmination of all these phases. If there are any new armament deals, they will be within this context.



Q: Has the Offsets Programme achieve its goal in balancing economic relations with industrial countries?



A: In the middle of last year, the UAE Offsets Programme board of directors was formed to organise, plan and establish a defined and clear policy to achieve its objectives. The UAE has started implementation of its offset programmes seven years ago with the aim of attracting funds from armament exporting countries, and investing them in development projects in the country, for the benefit of our economic and national interests, and to compensate for the value of armament deals. If the offset programme has achieved by now several economic investment projects of high market value, these clearly reflects its success in achieving its goals. The UAE stipulates that the local contribution in offset projects should not be less than 51 per cent as a pre-requisite for acceptance of offers from armament manufacturing countries. The quality and nature of offset projects are subject to approval from UAE government committees to make sure that they achieve national economic interests, by finding other sources of income, and diversifying of the country's economy, particularly in the re-export sector and transfer of technology, in addition to development of the industrial and agricultural sectors.



Q: How is the work going on establishing the Abu Dhabi City Centre for International Exhibitions? A year has now passed since the announcement of the ambitious programme for establishment of the biggest exhibition and conference centre in the region?



A: First, I would like to point out that establishment of a centre for international exhibitions and conferences in the UAE aims at achieving several goals at one time. Apart from its economic benefits, it reflects also the stability and security enjoyed by UAE community. It will also provide regularly a good opportunity for all concerned parties, people and the public at large to acquaint themselves with the latest developments in modern technology, and a vital source of knowledge, as well as permitting an exchange of expertise, information and developments in all fields. Our insistence on these large projects emanates from our national needs, our ambitious economic strategy and even our regional and international role. Such projects needs a long time for planning and execution. This make me optimistic about the possibility of achieving success in the near future in the building of an international standard exhibition centre with state-of-the-art facilities and services. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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