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

2020-09-01

LAHAB, the Last Word in Munitions in UAE

By Sakha Pramod
 
LAHAB, the UAE’s only munitions manufacturer meeting international quality and security standards, works closely with leading militaries, law enforcement agencies, and sports clients and has 25 years of experience in defence and security. As part of EDGE’s missiles and weapons cluster, LAHAB is committed to developing its own intellectual property and technology. Nation Shield spoke to Arafat Al Yafei, Chief Executive Officer, LAHAB. Excerpts: 
 
Can you give us a brief outline of LAHAB’s history?
LAHAB’s history started in 1994. Over the years, it went through several acquisitions and expansions. Its initial specialty was traditional small arms ammunition. Three years later, it expanded to cover medium and large-calibre munitions. In 2007, all defence companies in the UAE were brought under one umbrella – Tawazun. In 2016, we merged small, medium and large-calibre manufacturing. Later in 2019, we received the trade name of LAHAB - joining the Missiles & Weapons cluster within EDGE.
 
You are the only munitions manufacturer in the UAE. What is your product range?
We cover the whole range of ammunitions, from small arms to medium, to artillery, mortars, grenades and even aircraft bombs. Also, commercial ammunition like shot shells and the grenades used by police. We also do testing, and are the only military grade manufacturer in the UAE.
 
Munitions, like most defence products, are technology driven. How do you ensure you have the latest products in the segment?
To stay ahead of the competition, you have to adopt the changes in the market especially in integrating technologies, whether from the munitions side or on the system side. This we are committed to do. We acquire, adopt and implement cutting-edge technologies. And that’s not only on the product side, but also in the process of manufacturing. Not to forget digitisation or potential implementation of robotics and automation. We make sure we meet the changing requirements of our customers.
 
Do you sell your products to countries other than the UAE? 
We’re not a new company. We’ve been here for more than 25 years. So, we’ve been in contact with different regions. Our main customer is the UAE or within UAE. And that’s our focus. However, we also cater to the GCC and MENA countries.
 
What are the specifications that your munitions meet currently?
Currently, we mainly work under the US-MIL SPEC (U.S. military standards specification), also NATO, which are all military. We do C.I.P specifications, mostly used by law forces like police and shooting clubs. Through our innovation, sophisticated facilities and advanced processes, we consistently produce high-performing products and are always keeping an eye on customer requirements. We have certifications from different sectors like OSHAD, OHSAS 18001:2007. We have ISO certification like the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 etc. We are trusted by our clients because of these certifications. 
 
Among your products ranging from small calibres to aircraft bombs, is there one product that you specialise in or has great demand compared to others?
Munitions are consumables so they are always in continuous demand by the customers.
That’s why we keep it as our mission to meet the key requirements of our customers in ammunitions. As we speak today, we are very proud to be the key suppliers for the widely used small arms calibre like 5.56 bullets. We are also key suppliers for the 40 mm high velocity grenade in the medium calibre and are also very proud to be key suppliers for the MK series aircraft bombs. 
 
As CEO, how do you develop national talent to meet the challenging responsibility of enhancing UAE’s in-house manufacturing capabilities?
In LAHAB today, we have around 400 qualified employees. We work very closely with our sister companies, with our holding company and with specialised universities in order to identify and train talents to help create a knowledge-based economy. We offer in-house programmes for young talents in the industry. 
 
LAHAB facilities are well equipped to inspect and test ammunitions. What are the range of products that can be tested at your facility?
We are well equipped to test and inspect ammunitions. Our customers look at the performance to ensure the specifications of requested machinery - NATO, MIL, SAAMI or CIP.  We have a number of ballistic testing sites, indoor and outdoor. These are used to test our own products but if someone from outside wants to test his products, we are able to provide the service. We have chemical labs which calculate or measure the quality of raw materials as also finished products. We can test weapons of different ammunitions - small arms for different weapons, medium - also for different weapons.

If needed, for the armed forces of UAE, we test larger weapons or ammunitions. We have a static testing explosives field where we can test certain volume or quantity of explosives that can be used for the protection of vehicles. We also have the mobile test units. So, if a test needs to be done in a remote area, or the customer cannot come or bring his tools or his equipment to LAHAB, then we are able to help, by testing at remote areas like firing in outside ranges. We have good facilities for testing and inspecting ammunitions, whether as part of the production chain or cycle or as part of confirming or assessing the quality of any product. 
 
You are the only facility that offers demilitarisation facility in the entire region. What is the significance of this service?
Demilitarisation is a very important operation in the ammunition industry especially relating to the aspects of safety and durability of the products. Munitions have a life, according to the quality of the production and the process used. After that lifetime, either they have to be refurbished to extend the lifetime or they have to be disposed of. This is what’s called demilitarisation. It is a tough risky process needing considerable expertise, also meeting environmental requirements. We are doing that. 
 
How long have you had the demilitarisation service at LAHAB and who can benefit from this?
Demilitarisation has been done by LAHAB for around 15 years. LAHAB provides complete demilitarisation and explosive waste disposal services, including characterisation, analysis, storage, treatment and disposal. From the beginning, we have been serving the military, the civil defence authorities, different law enforcement agencies, shooting clubs, petroleum and oil and gas companies and service companies. They use explosives in their operations which need to be demilitarised. We help fireworks companies to get rid of their stocks.

Our clients include some chemical companies and shipping and logistic companies too which sometimes have stocks that need to be demilitarised in a controlled, protected, and environment-friendly manner. 

We cater to all the GCC area but we give priority to the local market. We are open to any client and have the capability, the capacity and the knowledge to give this service.  
 
How does demilitarisation service work? Could you breakdown the process for us?
We offer complete explosive and ammunition end-of-life demilitarisation for almost all types of explosives and pyrotechnics. This includes disassembly, separation, and incineration using open-pit burning and open-pit detonation. We also offer safe disposal of commercial mining, and oil and gas products. 
 
The process at LAHAB depends on the type of the products, ranging from small arms to huge products like aircrafts bombs, weighing up to 1 tonne. However, in a very generic manner, the first thing is to ensure and understand what it is and to see the datasheet of that product. 
 
Second is to do unpack the goods in order to prepare for transportation. In our facility, we will start doing the mechanical disassembly, by what we are targeting the energetic material, because that is the dangerous part. 
 
The third step is separation. Here we start removing the key parts of the warhead, mainly the fuze or the ignition which is the dangerous part. It has its own path of demilitarisation. The rest we have to treat separately. The energetic material, once we reach it, will be removed from the casing. The casing will be either recycled or disposed as scrap. 
 
The energetic material has to be recycled or treated in a very controlled manner. Some resources do not need the removal of the energetic material, so we treat them properly and  in some cases we get rid of the energetic material by burning it or detonation. 
 
The destruction of the energetic material requires expertise and that is the key part. Our specialists are trained to treat all type of products and they have the equipment to protect them and the environment.
 
We are proud of what we have today. We are also very ambitious to enhance our capabilities as a company so that we can meet the different requirements of our customers in UAE, in the region and internationally.  
 
 
 

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