QinetiQ's Houbara target drone joint venture (JV) is continuing to stand up its capabilities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following its formation in late 2017.
Speaking to Jane's at the IDEX 2019 trade show in Abu Dhabi, QinetiQ's international business development director, Michael Collier, said that the organisation has recruited 80-90% of its staff in the UAE, and established its offices in Abu Dhabi.
The JV's factory at the Tawazun Industrial Park will undertake first-line assembly of Banshee target drones, and ultimately full manufacturing once the supply chain and representative volumes can be achieved, Collier said.
Tim Allen, CEO of Houbara, said the company's plans are to diversify beyond its current target systems in the future.
"When you look at the areas of interest in terms of technology and capabilities the UAE is focussed on, there are a number of good offerings we could potentially bring to the market notably autonomy. It's not just in developing systems but also to develop and run programmes, which are along the lines of the [UK's] Army Warfighting Experiment - and there has been some significant UAE interest in that."
Allen added that there is scope to build-out capabilities in the UAE for roles in areas such as testing and evaluation (T&E). In the future, building on the UAE's relationship with Saudi Arabia may be a stepping stone for building regional sovereign capabilities in areas such as T&E, as engineering capabilities mature in both government and end-users.
Houbara was displaying the Rattler Ground Air Launched Supersonic Target (GAL-ST) mounted on a Banshee Jet 80 target drone at the show. The Rattler was developed at the request of a European navy to mimic high velocity missile threats, and can be used to replicate air-launched anti-radiation missiles and supersonic high-diver threats such as anti-ship missiles.
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