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

2024-03-04

WDS Triumphs: SAR 26B Contracts, 773 Exhibitors

The second edition of the World Defense Show (WDS), organised by the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) from February 4 to 8 in Riyadh, concluded on a high note, achieving impressive milestones that solidify its position as a leading defence industry event.
 
Held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the event attracted 773 exhibitors from 76 countries and 441 official delegations from 116 countries, resulting in a total of SAR 26 billion in deals and 106,000 trade visits.
 
During the show, 73 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreements were signed, with 17 of them being offset agreements. 
 
Vision 2030 Objectives
Ahmad Al-Ohali, Governor of GAMI, stated: “World Defense Show 2024 has effectively connected industry leaders and innovators from across the globe, showcasing our nation’s growing influence and capabilities. I extend my profound thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for their patronage. Their visionary leadership is crucial in driving our nation towards achieving the Vision 2030 objectives, particularly in localising more than 50 per cent of defence expenditure and bolstering the Saudi defence and security industry.”
 
He noted that the Kingdom has begun to reap the benefits of this support, with localisation rates increasing from four per cent to 13.6 per cent at the end of 2022. 
 
The number of foundational permits and licences reached 477 permits for 265 companies operating in the defence industries sector, alongside the launch of over 74 investment opportunities for supply chain localisation. 
 
Andrew Pearcey, Chief Executive Officer of the World Defense Show, commented: “With extensive international participation and substantial deals announced, the show has facilitated invaluable networking, knowledge-sharing, and commercial relationship-building helping establish it as the premier defence and security show in the region. I look forward to welcoming the global defence community back to Riyadh in 2026.”
 
The event showcased impactful programmes like the International Women in Defence Programme, Future Talent Programme, and Defence Space Arena. These initiatives, fostering sector growth, collaboration, and human capital development, not only celebrated achievements and addressed challenges but also laid the foundation for future collaboration and growth in the defence industry.
 
Multi-domain Operations
The air assets featured a variety of mission aircraft, fighter jets, helicopters, UAVs, and cutting-edge electric aircraft. On the land side, armoured vehicles and tanks complemented this diverse collection. 
 
This unique blend of manned and unmanned technologies effectively showcased the capabilities of future multi-domain operations.
 
The dynamic daily air display was spearheaded by the Saudi Hawks, the Royal Saudi Air Force aerobatic team, and the Chinese national aerobatic team, Ba Yi. 
 
Combat aircraft like the Calidus B250, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale C, and F-15s, along with the Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 Thunder, enthralled spectators. UAV capabilities were demonstrated daily by Red Cat Teal2, Firejet M180, and Skydio X10D.
 
The apron hosted an impressive static display of over 50 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, including a Cessna Caravan, Boeing Chinook, Airbus A320, A321, Cougar helicopter, Sikorsky Seahawk and Blackhawk, Bombardier Global 6500, Embraer KC390, and the classic LM C130. Electric aircraft, such as the Volocopter eVTOL air taxi, also graced the exhibition.
 
Calidus took centre stage in daily land demonstrations with the 8x8 Wahash multi-role armoured vehicle, joining the Humvee Saber Light Tactical Vehicle, SAMI’s Obaya and Storm II vehicles, and the Tatra Tactic truck for a captivating display.
 
The expansive courtyard area showcased 70 land assets, featuring vehicles from Otokar, Terradyne, Chrysler, Oshkosh, Saab, GM, and Nexter.
 
Space Showcase
A focal point of the show was the new Defence Space Arena, featuring the Space Theatre and the Defence Space Domain.
 
Sponsored by the Ministry of Defence in Saudi Arabia (MoD), the Defence Space Domain was a highlight, offering an immersive introduction to space defence development. It showcased space capabilities, technologies, and solutions through video screens and displays from industry leaders like BAE Systems, Boeing Space, Leo Labs, and Lockheed Martin.
 
Visitors explored a Space Station simulation, with digital screens illustrating the critical role of the space domain in shaping global military capabilities.
The Space Theatre’s opening day featured sessions on “The Interface between Space and Defence in Saudi Arabia” and “Space – The Challenges and Need for Collaboration.” 
 
Industry leaders, including panellists from GAMI, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, and global space experts, provided insights. The Space Theatre continued discussions on innovations, governance challenges, international collaboration, defence and space interoperability, and diversity in the space sector. 
 
B2B Connect
B2B Connect served as an exceptional, no-cost platform that empowered qualified and reputable suppliers to establish fresh connections with global buyers and official delegations. One-on-one meetings facilitated the establishment of new and enduring relationships, the cultivation of business leads, and the exploration of potential partnerships at the event.
 
A sophisticated match-making system prearranged scheduled meetings to ensure that registered buyers and suppliers were efficiently connected based on shared interests.
 
Building upon the success of the Meet the Buyer Programme conducted during WDS 2022 and in response to growing demand, B2B Connect extended its duration to three days. This extension reinforced WDS as the optimal meeting environment for the defence industry. 
 
Ground-breaking Initiatives
The mega show featured other ground-breaking initiatives: the International Women in Defence Programme and the Future Talent Programme.
 
Led by Ambassador Reema Bandar Al-Saud, the International Women in Defence Program aimed to recognise and advance women in the defence industry. 
 
Reema Bandar Al-Saud emphasised: “The WDS International Women in Defence Programme is a vital step towards engaging, cultivating, and advancing women across the defence sector, in line with Saudi Vision 2030. It’s about recognising and amplifying the significant roles women play and encouraging this positive change globally.”
 
Amanda Stainer, Chief Commercial Officer at World Defense Show, highlighted the programme’s active role in shaping an inclusive future in defence, building a resilient community.
 
The Future Talent Programme, sponsored by BAE Systems and General Dynamics, offered opportunities for aspiring defence professionals. Exhibitors adapted stands for immersive experiences, aligning with daily themes. The programme, aligned with the Human Capital Strategy for Military Industries, aimed to enlighten and inspire over 8,000 students.
 
Here is a glimpse of innovative offerings from diverse companies: 
 
RTX Unfolds Defence Solutions 
Aerospace and defence company RTX highlighted its experience in building advanced defence solutions that met customer commitments and emphasised dedication to enabling defence localisation in the Kingdom. 
 
Among the solutions featured were advanced counter-unmanned aircraft systems and a portfolio of combat-proven air and missile defence sensors, including the Patriot GEM-T missile and the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defence Sensor (LTAMDS) designed for detecting and defeating complex threats across the battlespace.
 
The company shed light on its expertise in developing advanced defence technologies for the connected battlespace, showcasing state-of-the-art solutions to modernise C-130H fleets. This included Enhanced Vision Systems, NP2000 propeller systems, wheels and carbon brakes, the Zero-G helmet, Aces 5 ejection seat for fighter pilots, and space exploration capabilities.
 
MISA, GAMI, Leonardo Explore Tie-up Opportunities
The Ministry of Investment (MISA) of Saudi Arabia, the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), and Leonardo signed an MoU to explore defence and aerospace collaboration opportunities. 
 
The agreement covered areas such as the space industry, airframe MRO, electronic warfare systems, radars, and helicopter assembly.
 
The MoU focused on specialised collaboration in Combat Air and Cross-Domain Integration, including next-generation technology initiatives. This involved uncrewed systems, integrated sensors, digital technologies, industrialisation processes, and human capital development. Opportunities for the national supply chain in Saudi Arabia were also explored, aligning the country with Leonardo’s regional and global value chain.
 
Saudia Technic, Embraer Sign MoU on Maintenance
 
Saudia Technic and Embraer Services & Support signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), initiating collaboration in maintenance and training capabilities. 
 
The agreement focuses on enhancing cooperation in Commercial Aviation, specifically for E2 jets family and Executive Aviation maintenance.
Saudia Technic’s CEO, Capt. Fahd Cynndy, and Embraer Services & Support representative, Regional Sales Director Rida Amara, signed the MoU in the presence of President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Abdulaziz Al-Duailej.
 
Capt. Fahd Cynndy expressed optimism about the collaboration, stating, “The aerospace industry in Saudi Arabia is thriving, and with Embraer Services & Support, we are poised for remarkable advancements.”
 
Carlos Naufel, President and CEO of Embraer Services & Support, added, “We are pleased to sign this MoU with Saudia Technic. Saudi Arabia’s aerospace industry is among the fastest-growing globally, and our partnership positions us for significant advancements in the region.”
 
Boeing Highlights Legacy in Saudi Arabia
Boeing showcased defence platforms and capabilities at the Show. Asaad AlJomoai, President of Boeing Saudi Arabia, highlighted the event’s importance for connecting with partners, emphasising Boeing’s nearly eight-decade partnership with Saudi Arabia.
 
The exhibit featured a virtual-reality display of the F-15EX cockpit and the T-7A Red Hawk Advanced Pilot Training System simulator. Other highlights included Boeing’s KC-46A tanker, ScanEagle VTOL, CH-47 Chinook, and AH-64 Apache.
 
Boeing Global Services discussed Next Generation Product Support, an efficient option for government partners in the region leveraging Performance Based Logistics.
 
Boeing’s senior executives participated in high-level panels. 
Boeing, with a history of supplying over 400 defence aircraft to the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, has invested in partnerships with key players in the Saudi aerospace ecosystem, including collaborations with SAMI, GAMI, the Royal Saudi Air Force, and the National Guard. 

Firestar Unveils Huntsman Dual-purpose Drone
Firestar Systems, a Turkish defence company, unveiled the Huntsman Surveillance & Strike Drone System, designed for dual purposes: surveillance and precision striking. The drone boasts a 10-kilometre range and a 30-minute operational time, with variations based on configuration and payload. Constructed with a carbon fibre frame, it features six carbon fibre propellers and electric motors, along with military-grade GPS and two antennas for reliability. 
 
The system’s operational time increases when configured solely for surveillance. For surveillance tasks, it includes a high-grade gimbal camera with 30x optical zoom, fixed-focus 1080p resolution, 640x512 IR thermal imaging, and a 1,800m laser range finder, enhancing real-time situational awareness for ground forces. 
 
The Huntsman drone is positioned as a versatile and efficient solution catering to the evolving demands of modern military operations. 
 
BMC Showcases Kirpi II MRAP Vehicle  
BMC showcased the KIRPI II MRAP, a 4x4 armoured vehicle with Aselsan’s SARP weapon stations, 8.9L, 375hp Cummins ISL9E3 turbo diesel engine, independent suspension, and composite armour for enhanced mobility and protection. 
 
The monocoque armoured cabin features special windshields, shock-absorber seats, a weapon station, and an emergency exit hatch. 
 
With a curb weight of 19,050 kg, it meets STANAG 4569 level 4 mine protection and level 3 ballistic protection standards. The KIRPI II accommodates 13 troops, including a three-person crew, achieving a maximum speed of 100km/h and a range of 750km. It navigates water up to 80cm deep, handled 30° side slopes, and measured 7.375m in length, 2.865m in width, and 3.81m in height. The vehicle boasts a robust design, offering exceptional battlefield versatility and adaptability.
 
JordanAMCO Displays M134 Cupola with M134 Minigun
The Jordan Advanced Machining Company (JordanAMCO) unveiled the M134 Cupola, a turret system designed for the American M134 Minigun, aiming to enhance the firepower of military vehicles. 
 
This product, the JA 10700.0-2-3.10 model, features a fully enclosed design with a ring mount for a 360-degree traverse and ten vision blocks. It provides customisable protection levels, ranging from BR6 to BR7, and allowed the choice between a hybrid gear ring mount operated via a joystick or a manual geared ring. The Cupola is equipped with two gun ports, a top access hatch, suction fans, and a searchlight, demonstrating adaptability to diverse operational environments.
 
At the core of the Cupola is the M134 Minigun, an electrically powered, six-barrelled rotary machine gun utilising 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges. Weighing 85 lb and measuring 801.6 mm in length, with a barrel length of 558.8 mm, the Minigun offers a variable firing rate between 2,000 and 6,000 rounds per minute, achieving a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second. Its effective range reaches 1,000 metres.
ST Engineering Demonstrates Global Tech Solutions
 
With an array of defence solutions and advancements, ST Engineering showcased a diverse range of solutions spanning the land, air, sea, digital, and cyber domains. Among the highlights were:
 
• ExtremV, an amphibious variant of the renowned Bronco family of All Terrain Tracked Carriers (ATTC) is tailored for various applications, from humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) to firefighting, emergency rescue, medical evacuation, and logistics support.
 
• The C-130 Centre of Excellence is recognised as a Lockheed Martin-approved service centre, offering comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for C-130 aircraft, encompassing airframe, engines, and components.
 
Leveraging AI-driven analytics, ST Engineering’s Digital MRO solutions deliver comprehensive support across land, air, and marine sectors.
 
• Autonomast is an innovative modular system designed to convert manned vessels into Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs), equipped with AI-powered automatic guidance software for intelligent navigation and obstacle avoidance.
 
• The ADDER Lite Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) features a lightweight and stabilised design for enhanced accuracy, incorporating AI and Machine Learning to optimise target engagement.
 
Saudi MoD Reveals K239 Chunmoo MLRS 
The Saudi Ministry of Defence showcased Hanwha Corporation’s K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher system, highlighting its multi-calibre launch capability for 130 mm unguided rockets, 227 mm unguided rockets, and 239 mm guided rockets. The system, mounted on a single turntable for 360° rotation, offers flexibility on the battlefield. 
 
Rapid firing and reloading capabilities enable launching six 239 mm rockets in 30 seconds and reloading two rocket pods in seven minutes. 
 
The Chunmoo’s munitions include the CGR080 239 mm guided rockets, equipped with high-explosive penetration warheads or cluster bombs, showcasing versatile engagement options. 
 
Efforts are underway to extend the rocket range to 200 km, with research on a larger 400 mm rocket variant. 
 
The Chunmoo launcher vehicle, based on the K239L 8×8 truck chassis, features an armoured cab providing protection against small arms fire and artillery splinters, and offers NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection. 
 
DCD Rolls Out Husky 2G Landmine Detection Vehicle 
DCD Protected Mobility introduced the Husky 2G, an evolved landmine detection vehicle designed for enhanced operational efficiency in route clearance missions. 
 
Building on the single-operator MK III Husky, the two-operator Husky 2G integrates advanced detection technologies, including metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar, covering a 3 m wide path during clearance operations. 
 
Resilience is a core feature, with a unique engineering approach allowing the Husky 2G to survive blasts and undergo quick field repairs. 
 
The Redpack and Bluepack systems ensure minimal downtime, providing a spare wheel module trailer and a 20 ft ISO container with first-line maintenance spares. Mobility and protection are strengthened with all-wheel drive and steer capabilities, automatic transmission, and compliance with STANAG 4560 for fragmentation protection.
 
The robust driveline, powered by a Mercedes Benz turbo diesel engine, combined with advanced mobility features and optional equipment like the OWL 360° SA camera system and SWAT III gunshot detection system, enhances operational effectiveness in challenging environments. 
 
The recent integration of the Route Clearance Platform Autonomous Control Kit (RC-PACK) further underscores DCD Protected Mobility’s commitment to innovation in specialised route clearance vehicles.
 
Streit Group Divulges Advanced Defence Solutions  
Streit Group, a leader in the manufacturing of combat vehicles, presented a comprehensive portfolio, including Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Light Tactical Vehicles, armoured boats, Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), jamming systems, gunshot detection systems, and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) video radar technologies.
 
A highlight was the unveiling of the new Cobra 4 in two innovative variants: the Cobra 4 Support Utility Truck (SUT) and the Cobra 4 Light Armoured Multirole Vehicle (LAMV). The Cobra 4 SUT emerges as a pinnacle in Tactical Sport Utility Trucks, offering versatility and mobility. It is designed to perform in both urban and off-road conditions, ensuring the safe transport of a crew of four along with equipment for short to medium range missions. 
 
The vehicle boasts Stanag Level 2 Armour protection, an upgraded suspension, and is built on the all-new Kia Defence chassis.
 
The Cobra 4 LAMV, a compact Armoured Personnel Carrier, prioritises mobility. With formidable off-road capabilities, it navigates urban and rural combat zones efficiently. 
 
Otokar’s Ural Armoured Vehicle Garners Attention
At WDS, Otokar’s Ural armoured vehicle garnered global attention for its advanced defence technology. Designed for challenging environments, it accommodates eight individuals, offering an optimal platform for reconnaissance, patrol, or assault missions. 
 
The Ural boasts features like air conditioning, raised air intake, run-flat tyres, smoke extractor, spare wheel carrier, emergency exit hatch, and engine fire suppression. Its armament customisation ranges from 5.56 mm to 12.7 mm machine guns or a remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) with a 7.62 mm machine gun. This flexibility allows armed forces to tailor the vehicle for diverse operational scenarios. 
 
With effective protection against shrapnel and anti-personnel mines, the Ural ensures crew and infantry safety in combat conditions.
 
Mosanada Spotlights Karakal Hybrid Anti-Drone System 
Qatar’s Mosanada featured its Karakal Hybrid Electromagnetic RWS Anti-Drone System, notable for its noiseless and smoke-free electromagnetic gun, allowing precise drone neutralisation with stealth advantages. 
 
Technical details include a variable firing angle (-20 to 60 degrees), 360-degree rotation, a 2.5 km reach, projectile speed of 1200 m/s, and a firing rate of 60 rounds per minute. 
 
Operating quietly and without special projectiles, it prevents sparks, flames, and mechanical wear. The system prioritises mobility, compactness, and lightweight design, incorporating an intelligent tracking system, low power consumption, and minimal maintenance for prolonged performance and operational efficiency. Alongside, Mosanada presented Border Radar Surveillance Solutions, integrating Ku-band pulse Doppler radar with AI for 360-degree observation and precise target detection in ground security surveillance.
 
RILA Xtreme MRAP & LRV in Live Demo  
At the Land Demonstration arena, the International Armored Group (IAG) showcased its combat vehicles, the RILA Xtreme MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Vehicle and the Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV). 
 
The RILA Xtreme MRAP, designed to endure IEDs, landmines, and ambushes, emphasises robustness and advanced armour protection for occupants’ safety in high-threat environments. Balancing survivability with comfort and mobility, it addresses modern warfare challenges.
 
In parallel, IAG’s Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV) exemplifies superior reconnaissance capabilities, emphasising lightweight design, rapid deployment, and high-speed manoeuvrability across diverse terrains. Equipped with state-of-the-art latest surveillance and communication technologies, the LRV enhances efficiency and stealth in reconnaissance missions, adapting to various combat scenarios.
 
Live demonstrations highlighted the RILA Xtreme MRAP’s resilience in simulated real-world threats and showcased the LRV’s agility and technological integration in reconnaissance and rapid response drills. 
 
These vehicles mark significant advancements in armoured vehicle technology, focussing on adaptability and multifunctionality in modern military strategy. 
 
Riyadh 2026 Awaits
The curtain closed on the second WDS Saudi 2024, leaving a legacy of innovation, collaboration, and economic prosperity. 
 
The event facilitated a convergence of industry leaders, experts, and innovators, driving discussions on the latest technologies and strategies. WDS 2024 provided a glimpse into the future of defence, with exhibitors unveiling state-of-the-art solutions and addressing global security challenges. 
 
The networking opportunities and knowledge exchange have paved the way for transformative developments in defence capabilities, reinforcing international cooperation and shaping the trajectory of the defence sector for years to come.
 
The stage is set for even greater participation and innovations, once again uniting the global defence community. Mark your calendars and prepare to witness the future of defence unfold at WDS Saudi 2026.
 
Picture credit: WDS, Ogilvy
 

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