Middle East interest in emerging technologies grows

22 February 2011

New technologies include invisible tank and liquid armour

Middle East countries are showing early interest in emerging technologies being created by UK-based BAE Systems.

New technologies being studied include biometric surveillance that targets people of suspicion. This would be particularly useful for large sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar that will be held in 2022. This technology is already being used on the London Underground since the suicide bomb attacks in July 2005.

Liquid armour technology is still in the development stage. This will be 45 per cent thinner and 35 per cent lighter than traditional armour making it particularly beneficial in the Middle East region where temperatures are high.

Lightweight armour would replace the traditional armour and would consist of composites thereby improving mobility. This is already being used by the US in Afghanistan. As the lightweight armour is thinner and lighter and aids mobility, it would be ideally suited to situations such as protests that recently happened in Egypt, says Hisham Awad, project manager for emerging programmes at BAE Systems at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

“Now is a changing environment for BAE and other companies around the world. There is more focus on high-tech technology. UK-based companies are allowed to sell to many countries in the Middle East where [there is] an interest in cutting-edge technologies,” Awad says.

The new technologies have generated the “initial interest” of Gulf states, says a source at BAE Systems.                                              

Another technology under development is adaptive signature technology that rends the tank invisible. Cameras on one side of the tank replicate the image on a series of screens on the opposite side, camouflaging the vehicle to its surroundings. This will be adapted to all regions. Another technology will take the heat emitted by the exhaust and move it around the vehicle so that in the dark the tank can take the shape of a civilian car for example.

Another concept is Raider, which is a remotely or autonomously controlled unmanned device that is used for perimeter control, convoys in situations such as mine fields and in casualty evacuation. In 10 to 15 years time, Raider is expected to be in operation.

Due to regional instability, the Gulf in particular is shoring up its defences and is focussed on acquiring equipment across the board, including land, air and sea defence. There are other areas that are also being focussed on that include cyber security and monitoring of terrorism.

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