The twenty or so companies attending the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi have managed to seed short- and medium-term contracts

Spanish executives return satisfied from the IDEX defence show in the Emirates

PHOTO/IDEX - The high global demand for weapons systems, tactical vehicles, communications, ammunition and military equipment caused by the fear of a generalisation of the war in Ukraine has generated a large influx at IDEX

The executives of the Spanish defence companies that have attended the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) return satisfied to their offices after their trip to the Abu Dhabi exhibition held from 20 to 24 February, one of the three most important in the world, along with Eurosatory in Paris and DSEi in London.

Practically all of them described as "very positive" the attendance of their respective companies and the result of their presence, contacts and meetings, a prologue to future contracts. The strong international demand for weapons systems, communications, tactical vehicles, ammunition and military equipment of all kinds caused by the fear of a generalisation of the war in Ukraine has led the senior officials of the national industry to lead their respective commercial teams at the exhibition in the Gulf country.


The Secretaries of State for Defence and Trade, Amparo Valcarce and Xiana Margarida Méndez, respectively, also attended IDEX to express their support for the internationalisation efforts of the Spanish defence industry. The Director of Engineering and Naval Constructions of the Navy, Vice Admiral Manuel Antonio Martínez-Ruiz, and the head of the Foreign Support Office (OFICAEX), General César Augusto Sáenz de Santa María, also attended. 

Both Amparo Valcarce and Xiana Margarida Méndez have taken advantage of their stay in Abu Dhabi to conclude agreements and hold meetings with high-ranking authorities of the nation. The Secretary of State for Trade with the CEO of Tawazun, Shareef Hashim al-Hashmi, the corporation that centralises procurement for the UAE Armed Forces. The Secretary of State for Defence with authorities from the Ministry of Defence of the Emirates, with whom she has signed an MOU-type agreement to "support the presence of Spanish companies in the country".

Tecnobit, led by its executive president, Lluis Furnells, showed for the first time its new capabilities in secure mobile satellite communications after the purchase of Inster and the creation of its subsidiary Cipherbit, dedicated to cybersecurity with the certifications of the National Cryptologic Centre and NATO. It showcased its wide range of optronic systems, such as the new Orison optical cameras, which can be integrated into 2- and 4-axis stabilised or gyro-stabilised platforms.

Widespread satisfaction 

It also set up a demonstration area for SIMTAR, the Artillery Simulation Centre it has developed for the Emirates Army, whose virtual simulator "which is already in the installation phase" allows manoeuvre units to be trained up to Brigade level. DAS Photonics and its CEO, Javier Martí, in alliance with Tecnobit, showed its TEWS mobile electronic warfare system. Adapted to tactical vehicles, it is capable of detecting threats in radar and communications bands, a "pioneering project on a global scale", Martí emphasised, whose "first examples will be delivered to the Emirates Armed Forces at the end of this year".

Escribano E&M has emphasised its 120-millimetre mortar transport system, which the company claims is "the lightest in the world". Called EMOC, it is equipped with an automatic targeting system that combines the mobility, range and firepower of conventional mortars. With its president Javier Escribano leading the team, the stand was visited by the President of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and by the Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. It should be remembered that Escribano laid the first stone of its future Technology Centre on 17 February in a ceremony presided over by the Secretary of State for Defence. 


Sener Aerospace has arrived at IDEX with Naviground, its new navigation system for manned and unmanned vehicles which, according to the company, is a "digital solution that connects and coordinates different vehicles to provide precise navigation". Using information fusion techniques and artificial intelligence algorithms, a processor integrates in real time the data and images collected by various sensors and offers a more reliable and robust solution than those calculated independently by each of the sensors.

The firm's general manager for defence, Rafael Orbe, has explained to potential customers that the system is capable of navigating through the countryside without receiving GPS, Galileo or Beidou signals. The company has brought to Naviground its long experience in robotics, which it extends with the "exclusive technology it has developed and which travels on board the European scientific satellites Herschel and Planck and the IXV and Space Rider spacecraft".

The general manager of the strategic operator Hisdesat, Miguel Ángel García Primo, is one of many who has drawn a "very positive" assessment from his presence at IDEX. He has been able to meet with Emirati users of its Paz radar satellite, personally verify their "satisfaction with the images they receive", he stresses, and anticipate that Paz 2 will have much more coverage, better resolution and image quality and a quasi-real-time mode of operation. The UAE Armed Forces have also been interested in the secure communications to be provided by the two Spainsat NG satellites, the first of which will be launched in 2024.

Positive prospects

Navantia's president, Ricardo Domínguez, has been leading his team at IDEX and NAVDEX, pleased with two recent major contracts. The one signed on 18 January by its subsidiary Navantia UK with the British Ministry of Defence for the construction of three logistic ships for the auxiliary fleet of the Royal Navy, together with the companies Harland & Wolff and BMT, a project to which the Spanish company will transfer its "shipyard 4.0" technology.

And that signed with Saudi Arabia at the end of 2022 to make five multipurpose combat ships a reality for the Royal Saudi Navy, commanded by Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah al-Ghofaily. In addition to the above, three months ago the corvette Hail was delivered, the third of the five under construction at the shipyard in San Fernando, Cadiz. Navantia took the opportunity to update on the progress of the F-110 frigate and the S-80 submarine projects. 


Arquimea attended IDEX following its recent acquisition of IberEspacio and with the strength to present for the first time on a global scale its innovative Q-SLAM-40 marauder, a complete autonomous system capable of locating, acquiring a target and striking it with precision. Specialising in critical components and actuator mechanisms for satellites, the company, led by its founder Diego Fernández, has made a strong entry into the defence sector with its eCompass electronic targeting system for mortars, its Techfire and Bc-Lite information equipment for mortars and artillery, and the Shepherd-Mil surveillance drone in the shape of a bird of prey.

Specialising in high-resolution cameras for nano and mini satellites, the Satlantis company headed by Juan Tomás Hernani participated in IDEX with its new projects, one of them the production of an observation satellite with a resolution of 45 centimetres, once it has received authorisation from Brussels to acquire the space activity in defence and Earth observation from the Everis company. SDLE showcased its panoply of drones and vehicles, and in particular its third-generation thermal imagers, developed for the Jordanian Army's Centaur combat vehicle fleet, which the company is also refurbishing. The cameras have proven to be capable of detecting targets at a distance of 11 kilometres and include self-diagnostic equipment.


The manufacturer Expal, which is finalising the details of its purchase in November last year by the German giant Rheinmetall, attended with its CEO José Manuel Fernández Bosch. It has shown in the Emirates its extensive family of ammunition and explosives of all types and the latest version of its Dual Eimos 81 millimetre mortar on a 4x4 light vehicle. SAES, the company specialising in underwater electronics, exhibited at NAVDEX 2023 its Minea family of naval combat mines - including the Minea-C that will equip the S-80 class submarines - and its MIRS system, designed to measure the electromagnetic signature of ship hulls.