The fifth edition of Unmanned Systems Exhibition (Umex) has registered the biggest-ever defence deal signings worth Dh2.07 billion in Abu Dhabi.

On the final day of the event on Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence announced its intention to sign a major contract with China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) for the purchase of 12 L15 aircraft.

As many as 12 deals worth Dh2.076 bn were inked across the three days, with Dh455 million worth of transactions from six deals on the last day.

In the previous edition, deals valued at Dh749 million were recorded by the end of the event.

Colonel Staff Pilot Abdulnasir Mohamed Al Hameedi, official spokesperson for the exhibition, said the overall valuation is a breath-taking 177 per cent increase from the 2020 edition.

“This is the highest number we have witnessed so far from all the editions. It has a 177 per cent increase over the last edition of 2020,” Al Hameedi told Khaleej Times at ADNEC.

The day’s big signing made by the Armed Forces was worth Dh194 million with ESE Limited for purchase of aircraft self-defence equipment and Dh112 million with the Boeing for training and maintenance services for aircraft simulators.

Other deals were: Thales DMS France SAS (Dh66 million) for updating and developing naval systems on aircraft, CAE Maritime Middle East (Dh31 million) for amending the contract of the aircraft training center project, Star Satellite Communications Company (Dh26 million) for installing a communications system for the drone project, and Edge Group’s E-Technical Services (Dh25 million) for technical support services and technical assistance for container system.

When asked about the record signings, Al Hameedi said, “The emergence of unmanned systems affects not only the UAE but the whole world. So, there has been an increase in demand for those systems, and for many reasons despite what is going on in the region in terms of threat from those systems. They cover a big domain and not only defence but also other civil parts. The military is not just interested in defence but other fields as well.”

Elaborating on the Ministry of Defence’s purchase of 12 L15 aircraft from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Cooperation (CATIC), Al Hameedi said, “The Ministry of Defence has the intention to sign a contract with CATIC for the purchase of 12 L15 aircraft and with an option for 36 additional of the same type in the future.”

Al Hameedi added that the talks with the Chinese company are in the final stages and the contract would be signed soon.

“This deal comes as part of the ongoing efforts to diversify and modernise the abilities for the UAE’s air force and air defence, and the Armed Forces in general. We have reached the final stage in our talks with the Chinese side. Moreover, the UAE Armed Forces are characterised for diversification to acquire the best abilities in order to meet its requirements and achieve its strategic goals. Finally, we trust CATIC with its advanced technology that enjoys global competitive advantages,” Al Hameedi added as the curtain fell on the only event in the Middle East dedicated to drones, robots, unmanned systems, and their components.

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