UAE, Israel to develop unmanned military, commercial vessels

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Emirati and Israeli state-owned arms makers sign an agreement to jointly design the ships on the final day of the Dubai Airshow.

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Emirati and Israeli state-owned weapons manufacturers have signed a strategic agreement in Dubai to jointly design unmanned ships capable of conducting anti-submarine warfare.

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United Arab Emirates defense group EDGE and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a partnership on the final day of the biennial Dubai Airshow on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the firms said they will design “170M” advanced modular unmanned service ships that will be usable for both military and commercial purposes.

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Aerospace and defense company IAI said in March that it would jointly develop an advanced drone defense system with EDGE.

The deal comes after the United Arab Emirates and Israel established diplomatic ties last year under a deal brokered by the administration of former US President Donald Trump. The US later agreed to sell the F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

Commenting on Thursday’s deal, EDGE CEO Faisal Al Bannai said: “In line with the Abraham Agreement and the UAE’s newly-established cooperation with Israel, joining forces with the IAI is a defining moment for us. As EDGE Autonomous With massive investments in capabilities, our co-development of Counter-UAS will help strengthen our advanced technology portfolio.

IAI President Boaz Levy said the agreement serves as “a stepping-stone for further trade and strategic alliances between our countries”.

The UAE was the first among other Arab states to normalize relations with Israel last year – neighboring Bahrain did so at the same time.

The Palestinians see the normalization agreements as a weakening of a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories and the acceptance of a Palestinian state in exchange for normal relations with Arab countries.

The Emirati-Israeli unmanned ships will be able to operate semi and fully autonomous and carry out missions including submarine detection and anti-submarine warfare.

“These developments will open many doors for us in local and global markets, military and commercial alike,” Bannai said in a statement.

It would be widely usable in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, mine detection, and would also be useful as a deployment platform for certain types of aircraft.

Commercially, it would be adapted for oil and gas exploration, among many other capabilities.

Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding (ADSB) will design the platform and integrate the control system and payload, while IAI will develop the autonomous control system and integrate the payload into it.

The statement did not say how much capital was earmarked for the project, or when it would enter production.

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