Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-11-03

BAE Systems Keen to Strengthen Position Across the Region

BAE Systems provides some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security solutions, and has been active in the UAE for 25 years.

By: Sakha Pramod
Working with customers and local partners, the company is proud to develop, engineer, manufacture, and support products and systems which deliver military capability, protect national security and people, and keep critical information and infrastructure secure.
The company recently appointed a new Regional Managing Director, Steve Kelly, who hails from the United States and now lives in Abu Dhabi.
Nation Shield spoke to him about his plans to build the BAE Systems footprint in the UAE and across the region as well as what the company has lined up at the Dubai Airshow.
 
You’ve recently arrived as RMD, could you tell us a little about your background and your role here in the UAE and across the region?
That’s right, I arrived at the end of September to start my role as Regional Managing Director. I’m transitioning to my role which will be based in Abu Dhabi and I will lead Group Business Development (GBD) across the MENA region. It’s a tremendous role and responsibility, and I have a great team of country directors – including Jonathan Bird, who leads our team in the UAE.
 
I’m proud to have worked with BAE Systems and its various entities and legacy businesses for nearly 20 years, many of them in executive roles. I’ve spent the last decade responsible for business development for the Platforms & Services (P&S) business which has meant I’ve spent a lot of time in the UAE and across the region.
 
GBD’s role is to be the bridge between the customer and the BAE Systems lines of business – which are predominantly based in the UK and U.S. In essence we are the face of BAE Systems and we present our products and capabilities to the customer. We look to ensure we match the customers’ requirements and our capabilities.
 
BAE Systems has been regularly showcasing its military air capabilities at the Dubai Airshow. What are the special highlights for this year?
We have a great range of products on display this year with a strong international team coming to the show, particularly from our Electronic Systems (ES) business in the U.S. We are concentrating on capabilities that can be added into aircraft. This includes adaptive radar counter-measures - a really interesting technology that allows aircraft to defeat enemy radar.
 
We will also showcase the APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) - a unique and popular product that is low cost and adds precision to targeting and defeating enemy targets. It can be added to aircraft, ships, or land vehicles.
We will also exhibit our range of counter-GPS jamming products. These are designed to meet evolving threats for mission-critical needs of all airborne platforms – fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and UAV. Threats are evolving and adversaries are jamming GPS signals which jeopardises critical mission effectiveness.


 
Tell us more about the counter-GPS jamming capability. Is BAE Systems working with anyone else on this? Moreover, what else will we see at the Dubai Airshow?
We often work with partners on other capabilities – especially in the Middle East – who assist with support, installation or adding additional capabilities, however, this is one that BAE Systems has developed and brought to market.
The Digital GPS Anti-jam Receiver (DIGAR) offers the best available airborne GPS jamming protection, featuring two form factor options for legacy retrofit and forward fit applications.
 
We also have a capability called Information Advantage – presented by our Applied Intelligence (AI) sector. It gives the customer the ability to take in and process information at a very high and rapid level. It can be adapted for cyber security – taking in data from satellites and surveillance drones – and processing information quickly, providing real actionable data to customers.
Finally, we will exhibit products from our Maritime division, which will showcase a broad variety of capabilities including ships platforms, services, and radars.
 
Can you tell us about BAE Systems Air programmes in the UAE?
We have been supporting Hawk here for 20 years, with Hawk training aircraft in operation in the UAE, today. In early October, probably the most famous Hawks of all – the UK’s Red Arrows – aerobic team visited the UAE to mark the launch of Expo 2020 Dubai and the UAE’s 50th anniversary, which brought renewed interest in the famous training aircraft. The Hawk has been our primary air platform here and we are proud to offer our long-term support.
 
What are BAE Systems current focus areas in the Middle East?
BAE Systems has been present in the region for many decades and we are enormously proud of the partnerships we have across the region. In addition to celebrating the UAE’s 50th, and that of other Gulf nations, we will mark our 25th anniversary of being in the UAE in 2022. These milestones demonstrate the depth of our relationships with customers in the Middle East.
 
We will ensure our customers can stay a step ahead when protecting their people and national security, critical infrastructure and vital information. We will also continue to work closely with partners to support economic development through the transfer of knowledge, skills and technology.
 
What kinds of training programmes are offered to Emirati interns? Why is this important to the company?
We have a strong interest in developing STEM capabilities  – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. BAE Systems develops advanced technology products and delivers them to customers, and - in order to do that - we need young people educated in STEM.
In the UAE we collaborate with Mubadala and bring interns to our factories and offices in the UK. We put them in a real job  – not just making copies or doing clerical work. This builds capability in the country which is in everyone’s interest.
We also partner with UAE companies and the best example of that is for Hawk support where we work closely providing products to GAL, which is part of EDGE.
 
BAE Systems is a member of the UAE-UK Business Council. How has this helped?
The UUBC is a great organisation which allows us to build contacts and relationships, particularly now as the UK and UAE are set to embark upon a new period of enhanced relations. Our representative on the Council is Jonathan Bird, our UAE Director. So we have new faces and a new sense of energy which is very exciting for the company here.
 
BAE Systems will look at where it can play a part in the £10 billion investment, in the UK by the UAE, which was recently announced by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
 
What are the other major initiatives and projects in the UAE for BAE Systems?
In addition to Hawk support and the various internship programmes, we are in discussions with a number of UAE entities and look forward to speaking about them more in the coming months. We will also continue to explore new ways to provide our customer, in the UAE and across the region, with a competitive edge across the air, maritime, land and cyber domains.
 
BAE Systems is located on stand 1355 in the U.S Pavilion at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
 

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