Israel Aerospace Industries said Thursday that it would jointly develop an advanced drone-defense system with the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned weapons maker EDGE.
State-owned IAI, a major Israeli defense firm, said in a statement that the companies would develop a Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System “tailored to the UAE market, with wider ranging benefits for the MENA region and beyond.”
“We believe that this collaboration will help both companies through the transfer of knowledge and sharing of capabilities. This memorandum of understanding serves as a stepping-stone for further business and strategic alliances between our countries, and will enhance cooperation for research and development and technological innovation,” said IAI CEO Boaz Levy.
Israel and the UAE formalized relations last year, brought closer by commercial interests and concern over Iran. On Wednesday, Israel and the UAE agreed to formal talks to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor between the two countries to boost bilateral exchange.
The joint project comes as Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, and has in the past threatened to launch strikes on the UAE. Following an attack on the heart of the industry this week by the Houthi movement, Saudi Arabia said it would take action to deter attacks on its oil facilities, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Wednesday.
The UAE had been Riyadh’s main partner in the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the group, but a senior Emirati official said in February that it had ended its military involvement in Yemen last October.
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The war has been in a military stalemate for years and in 2019 the UAE scaled down its presence in Yemen following attacks that year on tankers in Gulf waters, including off its shores.
The UAE already has an advanced anti-missile interception system, the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defences, known as THAAD.
EDGE, tasked with supplying advanced weapons to the UAE armed forces, is focused on developing drones, unmanned vehicles, smart weapons and electronic warfare equipment rather than conventional weaponry.
Comprising of a combination of IAI and SIGN4L products, the joint IAI-EDGE system will comprise detection and identification systems, soft-kill solutions (jamming, cyber takeover) and hard-kill capability (guns, missiles, electromagnetic and laser) and an advance command and control.