Developing countries want a share of the defense market
Big contractors and OEMs dominate the global market for weapons and equipment. They are, however, being challenged by companies that operate in small and developing countries, and offer relatively low-priced products that represent formidable, if basic, technologies.
Emerging and developing countries typically build a manufacturing base through local assembly or production of foreign defense equipment—one reason offsets have been so popular in arms sales. Now these countries want market share for their local companies.
Regional defense exhibitions are seeing a proliferation of these efforts. One example was the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi in February. The United Arab Emirates, the host country, is investing tens of billions to equip its armed forces and using offsets to create a local aerospace and defense industry that already competes for the UAE's business. Many of these companies are teamed with foreign partners that provide technology and expertise, but locally developed products are also being marketed to international customers.
The Bin Jadr Group, for example, developed the Nimr light protected vehicle, 500 of which were sold to the UAE and at least as many to pre-revolution Libya. The UAE is ordering an additional 1,000 vehicles, and the company has introduced a heavier 6 X 6 version, as well as configurations that include a 107-mm rocket-launching model.
Nimr has become a family of vehicles. The 6 X 6 is relatively heavy, with maximum gross weight of 13 tons, and 6.1 meters (20 ft.) long. A troop transport version carries 12 soldiers, and reaches 135 kph (84 mph.) with a 300-hp. Cummins turbodiesel engine and Allison S3000 automatic transmission. For armored patrol the Nimr has heavier protection, a choice of weapons, and carries five troops. Also new is the 4 X 4 command vehicle, on order by the UAE, with a maximum gross weight of 9 tons.
Middle Eastern countries' passion for light weapons is well known and the UAE seeks to develop a range of these, starting with the Caracal semiautomatic handgun family. This includes the new H (for hammer) model, which differs from the previous striker-operated C, F and SC models by adopting a hammer-based firing system. Caracal has a good reputation, and it is not unusual to see its handguns on European firing ranges.
But the handgun is just the first step for Caracal, which is jumping into the sniper rifle field with the CSR family of bolt-action weapons chambered for .308- or .300-caliber Winchester magnum rounds. A prototype was on display at IDEX. Production models will be ready by year-end that feature 600-mm or 510-mm barrels (the latter for police use) and folding stocks.
The next Caracal project will be the CC10 semiautomatic carbine for internal security use, chambered for 9-mm rounds.
The UAE is also pursuing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Adcom is moving from aerial targets (such as the new Yabhon GRN) to the armed Yabhon R-1 UAV, which will be joined by the Yabhon R-2 medium-altitude, long-endurance model. This could include Adcom-developed weapons, such as the Xtrem family of INS/GPS-guided smart weapons.
The country is promoting precision weapons with the Talon 70-mm smart rocket with semi-active laser guidance, developed by local company EAI and. Within 5-10 years the UAE expects to become a major producer of weapon systems, and aspires to surpass Turkey in defense technology.
Streit Group, which has built a name in up-armoring vehicles and operates in the Middle East, developed its interpretation of the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle—the Typhoon 4 X 4 APC, which carries 10 soldiers and their equipment. It has a gross weight of 16 tons, V-shaped armored monocoque hull and a 300-400-hp. Cummins diesel engine.
CMI Defense of Belgium and Ukraine are developing the CT-CV, a two-man turret for an armored fighting vehicle (AFV), which features a 105/54-mm long-barrel gun that can be elevated to 42 deg. for urban warfare and mountain operations. The turret has an advanced auto-loading system and fires the laser-guided Falarick antitank missile of Ukrainian origin, which gives a relatively light AFV the ability to engage targets at 5,000 meters, well beyond the range of a 105-mm gun firing conventional ammunition. The Falarick missile weighs 25.2 kg (55 lb.), is 1 meter long and reaches maximum range in 17 sec. It is fitted with a tandem hollow charge and reportedly can defeat more than 550 mm (21 in.) of armor behind explosive reactive armor (ERA). The turret has been tested on a Piranha 8 X 8 AFV.
Ukraine also hopes to score in the main battle tank (MBT) market with the latest Oplot design from Kharkov Morozov Building Design Bureau. This expands on the T-64 MBT and is powered by a 1,200-hp. 6TD-2 diesel engine, just enough for the 51-ton tank. The Oplot has a day/night stabilized vision system. The main armament is a 125-mm gun, which uses 40 rounds, 28 in a turret-mounted automatic loader.
The BTR-4 8 X 8 AFV, also from Kharkov Morozov, has the Shkval missile/gun turret, which is proposed for a modernization of the tracked BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Ordered by the Iraqi army, it has a combat weight of 17.5 tons and is amphibious, suiting it for marine infantry units. With additional armor the BTR-4 can reach 22 tons. Power comes from a commercially derived Iveco diesel engine delivering 430 hp., which allows it to reach 100 kph and gives the BTR-4 a 700-km range.
Beyond marketing former Russian systems, Belarus is proposing its own designs. Beltech Holding offers an antitank vehicle, the 4 X 4 Caracal, with a retractable mount and four laser-guided Barrier RK-25 antitank missiles, and another four missiles that can be automatically loaded. Four spare missiles are carried in the rear. Caracal fires two versions of the RK-25—130 or 152 mm, the latter reportedly achieves armor penetration of more than 1,000 mm behind ERA. A two-man crew sits in the forward cabin. The gunner has a dedicated workstation, or remotely operates the system. First firing trials were in March. Caracal can engage two targets simultaneously. Sensors are mounted on the retractable unit, and the vehicle has GPS and advanced navigation.
Serbia is betting on the success of two combat vehicles, the 8 X 8 Lazar IFV and the Nora B-52 wheeled self-propelled artillery system, both by Yugoimport. Lazar comes in three versions, with different hull widths and lengths and a combat weight of 21.5-24.3 tons. Diesel engines with 420, 480 or 510 hp. are proposed. The armament consists of a manned or remotely operated weapon station (ROWS) turret, with 20-30-mm main gun and modular armor. Basic armament is a 20-mm M55 gun in a manned turret with a coaxial 7.62-mm M86 machine gun. As an option there is a two-axis stabilized ROWS with 30-mm gun. Day/night sighting is proposed for the driver and gunner.
Nora K-I is the latest model, an upgrade for the international market of the 8 X 8 vehicle. It features two linked modules—a forward one with crew cabin and engine, and an aft one with a 155/52-mm caliber gun and auto-loader. Nora fires an extended-range round to 42 km. The vehicle stores 36 rounds and has an automatic fire-control system, radar to measure muzzle-round velocity and a self-defense weapon such as a ROWS with a 7.62-mm machine gun. With full protection, the Nora B-52m, fitted with a 410-hp diesel engine, reaches 80 kph and weighs 34 tons. Without armor the basic vehicle is just over 27 tons.
Asian countries are increasingly promoting their products internationally. Thailand's Chaiseri is a newcomer, offering the First Win 4 X 4 APC, a standard design with combat weight of 9 tons that carries 10 soldiers. It has a Cummins diesel engine and an Allison automatic transmission. Four prototypes have been built, and the company hopes to soon win a domestic order.
Multiple rocket launchers (MRL) are popular, and South Korea's Hanwha has revitalized the 70-mm rocket with its 70 mm MRL, which consists of a 4 X 4 light vehicle with a combat weight of 4.9 tons, including rockets, GPS/INS navigation system, fire-control system, and a 34-cell launcher firing high-explosive, multipurpose submunition and flechette rounds that engage different targets at 6-8 km. The firing rate is 4 rockets/sec.—in a salvo, an area of 200 X 200 meters can be rapidly covered. The idea behind the MRL is that the fire-control system and new high-lethality ammunition allow a light and mobile vehicle to undertake fire missions that would require much more time from a 120-mm mortar battery.