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The United Arab Emirates’ Edge Group came to LIMA 2023, held in Langkawi from 23-27 May 2023, with an intention to focus on its capabilities in autonomous systems, smart munitions, and electronic warfare (EW), the group’s director of international business, Miles Chambers, told ESD on 25 May.

Identifying Southeast Asia as a key focus region for future Edge business, Chambers noted that the group has a wide range of capabilities suitable for export and that last year exports accounted for more than 35% of its revenues.

Edge’s intent to do business in the region was reinforced at LIMA 2023 on 24 May when group entity Caracal signed an agreement with local firm Ketech Asia to produce and sell Caracal’s CAR 816 tactical assault rifle out of Malaysia. This accord includes a technology transfer deal that enables Ketech Asia to assemble the CAR 816 rifle at its new facilities in Pahang in support of Malaysian armed forces requirements. Chambers told ESD that, since Edge’s various entities had themselves previous been recipients of technology transfers, the group as a whole therefore “has a lot of experience in bringing capability, sharing know-how, and creating a long-term sustainable industry”. Chambers reflected that “it’s easy to set up a factory, but what happens after that?”. The history of Edge’s various entities in that regard, he added, made it easier for them to recognise how to build a sustainable future for the less experienced foreign companies with which they partner.

Edge entity ADSB also came to LIMA 2023 pitching a new corvette design, known as the 920 CP, to address the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Littoral Mission Ship requirement

Regarding Edge’s focus areas for LIMA 2023, at the forefront of the group’s autonomous system capabilities is its ADASI subsidiary, the portfolio of which includes the Scorpio-M and Scorpio-S unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), through to larger rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as the Al Sabr S-100, which has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 200 kg and an endurance of up to six hours on internal fuel, and the larger Garmoosha, which has an MTOW of 550 kg and an endurance of eight hours. ADASI has also designed the QX-6-50 tandem-rotor UAV, which has an MTOW of 360 kg and an endurance of 3.5 hours, as well as the concept for an Air Truck: a rotary-wing UAV that would have an MTOW of 2,500 kg and a maximum payload of 500 kg.

ADASI also produces the QX-4 and QX-5 tactical fixed-wing UAV that feature rotors for vertical take-off. These are geared towards intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, although the QX-4 is described on the Edge website as a “mission-flexible loitering munitions drone”.

Chambers pointed out that, seeing that the market for UGVs was growing, in February 2023 Edge acquired a majority stake in Estonia-based Milrem Robotics, which produces the Themis range of reconnaissance, cargo and combat UGVs.

Edge is also investing in unmanned surface vessels (USVs), Chambers noted. The group’s ADSB shipbuilding entity produces the 12.8 m-long 120 USV – a versatile unmanned platform that can be configured to support a range of duties such as mine countermeasures (MCM), anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions – and this year launched the 17.4 m-long 170 M-Detector, which is an optionally manned naval platform designed to perform a range of surface warfare, MCM, transport, surveillance and mapping missions.

Edge Group’s ADASI brought a Garmoosha rotary-wing UAV to LIMA 2023, with autonomous systems being one of the group’s focus areas for the show. (Photo: P Felstead)

Blurring the line between autonomous systems and smart munitions is Edge Group’s extensive range of loitering munitions (LMs).

ADASI produces the QX-1 quadcopter-based LM, while the QX-2 and QX-3 are quadcopters that release munitions rather than actually being LMs themselves. ADASI also produces the Rash 1M and 2M ‘glider’ precision-guided munitions.

Edge entity Halcon, meanwhile, produces the Hunter range of LMs, which range from a hand-launched rotary-wing system to larger canister- and vehicle-launched LMs, as well as the Shadow 25, 50-TJ and 50-P and long-range LMs,  which can reach targets out to 100 km, 140 km and 295 km respectively.

Edge’s EW capabilities, meanwhile, are distributed across a range of the group’s business units, said Chambers. Edge products in this area range cover secure communications, jammers to protect convoys from improvised explosive devices, counter-UAV systems to protect critical infrastructure, as well as cyber defence training and capability analysis.

Peter Felstead