Strategic development: Understanding UAE – Czech military relations
By Antonino Occhiuto
The 14th International Defence and Security Technology Fair in Brno, Czech Republic, in (2017) unveiled crucial elements regarding UAE-Czech military cooperation to fulfil the long-term strategic and security objectives of both countries. The partnership between UAE’s Nimr automotive and Vop Cz, resulted in their first military vehicle collaboration for the production, in the Czech Republic, of Nimr’s Ajban 440A configured to European winter specifications.
The new strategic partnership between Nimr’s automotive and the defence industry of the Czech Republic is particularly significant for a number of Eastern European members of the EU and NATO namely: Poland, Hungary Slovakia and the Czech Republic. These countries have made a substantial budget increase to modernise their land forces- prompted by Russia’s intervention in Eastern Ukraine- and enhance the rapid response capabilities of their special forces as the terrorist threat across the EU becomes increasingly dangerous. As such, UAE’s defence investments are warmly welcomed by Eastern European governments.
For the UAE, such cooperation has a number of short and long term advantages. In the short term Abu Dhabi will be able to develop new expertise regarding the construction of a wide range of military vehicles adaptable to multiple war scenarios due to the long term manufacturing experience of its European partners. Nimr will be also able to display its newest vehicle line, the Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) and to benefit from the tight connections linking Vop Cz to the defence ministry of the Czech Republic in order to have accurate feedback following testing undertaken by the Czech military on Nimr’s new vehicles.
In the long term, Emirates’s Defence Industries Company (EDIC), the UAE’s integrated defence manufacturing and services platform, of which Nimr is a subsidiary, plans to enhance the company’s growth opportunities in the European market, where defence spending is set to rise. In particular, the partnership with an important European company, such as Vop, is likely to increase Nimr’s ability to provide NATO members with the military hardware required in the future. Abu Dhabi’s defence industry is already the top exporter of light military vehicles across Africa and the Middle East. Enhanced cooperation with European companies with long time engagement in the construction of different types of heavy and light infantry vehicles, such as Vop, generates potential for the development of an indigenous arms manufacturing sector within the UAE. Such a development would not only benefit the UAE’s economic diversification and exports, it would also place the Emirates in a unique position in the GCC and the wider MENA region. The UAE would be able to rely on its own arms industry to ensure, independently, the rapid modernisation of important sectors of its military. Consider the order, placed by UAE authorities earlier this year, of Nimr manufactured 1.500 JAIS 4x4 and 6x6 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as more than 150 HAFEET 630A artillery support vehicles. An additional order includes 115 AJBAN 440A vehicles equipped with anti-tank guided missile systems to be delivered from 2018.