The biennial International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) is the biggest arms show in the Middle East, providing arms exporters from across the world with a high-profile platform to market their products to regional customers. The IDEX 2021 exhibition is running from February 21-25, bringing with it a slew of recent and newly unveiled hardware.
Here are the most notable weapons displayed so far.
Russian defense giant Rostec brought a large and diverse catalog to the 2021 edition of IDEX.
“We are really glad that the Coronavirus pandemic has not imposed any serious constraints on the program of IDEX 2021 and that we will be able to hold face-to-face meetings with our partners, which I am sure will be productive,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov told reporters. Russia’s new T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT) will be making an appearance via a mockup model. Russia’s defense sector is ramping up its efforts to advertise the T-14 abroad, partially as a means of offsetting the tank’s steep production costs; the Middle East and North Africa, collectively known as the MENA region, comprise a vast swathe of Russia’s tank export contracts.
Then there is Kalashnikov’s AK-19, a new assault rifle that I covered more in-depth in a previous article. A 5.56×45mm NATO-chambered export variant of the AK-12, the AK-19 is being branded as a reliable and cost-solution for MENA customers: “in a hot, humid and dusty climate, the AK-19 will provide the efficiency of its round-the-clock use, reliable operation and easy maintenance,” read a Kalashnikov press statement. Pantsir-C1M, an advanced variant of Russia’s Pantsir surface-to-air missile system, will also be making an appearance. The Pantsir system has proven to be a popular export product across the Middle-East, including IDEX 2021’s host country; the United Arab Emirates has ordered at least fifty Pantsir S1 units in the past decades, with recent reports indicating that the UAE has signed a deal with Russia to upgrade these older systems to newer variants. In more unorthodox exhibits, Kalashnikov will be showcasing its first-ever hovercraft, the Haska-10, designed to deploy amphibious troops in addition to certain light vehicles.
Although Russia enjoys a large presence at IDEX 2021, it is far from the only participant. Estonia’s Milrem Robotics showed what it calls its Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV). Guided by advanced navigation and obstacle detection algorithms, Milrem Robotics’ RCV acts as a kind of wingman for tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFV’s). With an arsenal rivaling a well-armed IFV, the Type-X is meant to improve personnel survivability by taking on high-risk operations that may otherwise result in casualties.
The Emirati conglomerate Edge Group unveiled the QX family of loitering munitions—better known as kamikaze drones—on Sunday, distinguished from one another by size, payload capacity, and weapons loadout. “QX is a family of four different aircraft. The first one is the QX-1 micro-UAV; the quadcopter basically carries a payload of 0.5 kilograms and the platform weighs 3 kilograms. The QX-2 mini-UAV is a much bigger platform and can carry a 1.5-kilogram payload,” Edge executive Mohamed Abdullah Al Nuaimi told the publication Defense News. Armenian company Pride Systems unveiled artificial intelligence-powered kamikaze drones of their own, capable of recognizing targets and launching strikes on autopilot. In the missiles category, HALCON—a UAE-based affiliate of EDGE—showcased its HAS-250 missile earlier this week. The HAS-250 is an anti-ship cruise missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to .8 Mach, with a range of over 250 km.
Mark Episkopos is the new national security reporter for the National Interest.