There were very few tracked armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) at IDEX this year, as there is a clear and continuing trend in the region towards the design, development and production of all types of wheeled AFV. These cover commercial vehicles fitted with lightweight armour to protect the occupants from small arms fire, up to much larger, heavier and better protected 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 vehicles.
The locally developed Wahash (wild falcon) made its first appearance at IDEX, while the Rabdan is now moving into the production phase in the UAE. Both of these 8x8 vehicles have more volume and payload than their 6x6 counterparts, enabling them to be fitted with armour packages and weapon systems to meet specific operational requirements.
The RG41 8x8 was also shown fitted with a new 30mm remote-control turret, hard-kill defensive aids system and an acoustic gunfire detection system, cameras for situational awareness and a battle management system.
Many of these 8x8 vehicles have turrets or remote weapon stations armed with medium-calibre cannon, or in the case of the Rabdan, the complete turret of the Russian BMP-3 tracked infantry fighting vehicle, which is the most well armed vehicle in its class.
Rather than purchase complete vehicles, some Middle East countries are now manufacturing or assembling AFVs designed to meet their own requirements, or a foreign design suitably modified. Some countries have also established facilities to cover the overhaul and modernisation of AFVs to extend their operational lives.
Unrest in the region means that mine-resistant ambush-protected-type vehicles continue to be fielded; these have greater armour protection than in the past to protect the occupants against mines and improvised explosive devices, which are the major threat during counter-insurgency type operations.
Compared with their tracked counterparts, wheeled AFVs have lower operating and support costs, as well as greater strategic mobility, being able to be rapidly deployed over long distances.