By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan
Domestic defence production industry of the United Arab Emirates is making its inroads in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states markets and Burkan Munitions Systems is one of the prime examples in this regard. Most recently, it has availed Dh1 billion (US$272.2 million) credit facility and is now targeting the GCC markets to expand its ammunition testing facilities. The First Gulf Bank has disbursed the said loan facility under 15 years agreement by accepting guarantees and letters of credit. Burkan Munitions Systems is a joint project of Tawazun Holding LLC, Al Jaber Trading Establishment and Rheinmetall Munitions Systems.
Burkan Munitions Systems L.L.C. is fulfilling the needs of the UAE armed forces for multiple uses ammunition in addition to maintenance and recycling of obsolete munitions and supply orders according to the agreed contracts.
Saeed al Mansouri, the company’s chief executive and general manager is of the opinion that after some time after meeting all requirements and enhancing certain capabilities the Burkan would be exporting ammunition to the other GCC countries in the days to come.
He emphasized that having an international quality standard there is a potential for its company in the GCC countries. He further mentioned that it would give his company honor to easily access to the entire region. He further said that Burkan would be able to offer testing facilities for other products such as body armour and smoke grenades to UAE companies in the days to come. He elaborated that in order to start research and development and trying to do his own design, he will require a testing and evaluation centre to enhance the current products and produce or modify some of those products.
According to CEO of Tawazun Holding Saif Mohamed Al Hajeri “its project has strategic importance and has successfully achieved the desired goals in establishing a domestic national industry meeting the needs of UAE armed forces instead of relying on foreign imports, upon the vision of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and in line with the directives of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
He further confirmed continuing the development and updating of the project in collaboration with the best international companies to be able to meet all the needs of UAE armed forces and to contribute to the national economy in implementation of the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030.
Burkan is a subsidiary of the UAE’s Offset Programme Bureau, an element of the country’s oil diversification efforts that is mandated to set up joint ventures. Riad Kahwaji, the chief executive of the Institute for Near Eastern and Gulf Military Analysis, is hopeful for its leading regional role beyond the UAE provided best quality and competitive price. A regional ammunition manufacturer has so far been absent from the Gulf, Mr Kahwaji said, although there are munitions manufacturers in Jordan, Egypt and Iran. Regional expansion would bring Burkan into competition with them and a number of western munitions manufacturers, he added.
The UAE has determined to develop its own indigenous defence industry amid an increase in arms spending in the region. In 2009, the Emirates purchased about $18 billion worth of US military equipment, according to a US congressional report.