Arms Expo opens in Abu Dhabi

Companies from over 50 nations, including Russia's Rosoboronexport, are showing off their latest weapons in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, at this year's IDEX Arms Exhibition, one of the biggest in the world.

The Arms Expo was opened by the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa Ben Zaid Al-Nahayan. Countries from the Middle East are expected to be the big customers at the expo, including almost 900 arms makers from 51 countries, thousands of state-of-the art war toys and multi-million deals.

“Arabs from different countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrein, Jordan – are here. This expo is a major event, because it gathers only the best modern defence technologies have to offer,” said Hassan Abdurahim Al-Shipr from Advanced Technologies Co.

This time it has become even more significant. For the past 15 years  wealthy Arab states like Kuwait, Bahrain and others, have been investing little in reforming their armies. Now the rush to upgrade is on, making this IDEX almost twice as big as before.

The region is said to be unstable, as the possibilities of a civil war in Iraq and military action against Iran are looming. So, all eyes of the class-A clientele, represented by rich Arab sheikhs willing to protect their countries, are on the expo grounds.

Russia, one the world’s biggest arms producers and exporters, is represented in IDEX by the 43 companies, which have brought its tanks, helicopters and small arms.

The head of the Russian delegation to IDEX stressed that the expo is very important and hopes are high.

“Since 1993, when our participation was the largest at IDEX, Russia has always been a success in Abu Dhabi. In the last couple of years we greatly expanded the geography of our sales. Now we trade with 60 countries, and every year we set a new record. The turnover reached $US 5.3 BLN in 2006,” said Nikolay Demidyuk, head of Russia's delegation.

One of the best Russian exhibits is the legendary Ka-50 helicopter, better known as the Black Shark, which is the only gunship in the world flying sideways and backwards at 100 kilometres per hour, with a whole pack of guided missiles, capable of  destroying a target in a matter of seconds.

Designed almost 30 years ago, its production was halted in 1995 due to lack of funds. Now the flying tank is back in the skies. 12 helicopters of this model have joined the Russian armed forces this year and more were produced for export.

The Ka-50 and its 2-manned version, the Ka-52, will be just one of many thousands of samples  displayed at IDEX.

The Russian “Bazalt” design bureau specializes in producing shells, missiles and rocket launchers. Every year it brings something new and unique to IDEX.

“We’re bringing the RPG28 – a 125-milimetre antitank rocket-launcher. We see it as the most powerful weapon which can be carried by one man. It is light, it is cheap and it has no equal in the world. This rocket-launcher can make a one-meter deep hole in any tank ever produced,” said Vladimir Korenkov, from the “Bazalt” Design Bureau.

“We see this expo as a major international event, which is of high importance to us. This year we have many new exhibits, like this rocket complex ”Iskander“, which has no equal in the world in its precision,” added MrDemidyuk.

The opening show was quite brief, but all the future buyers are aware that the best of IDEX is still to come.