November 15, 2015:
In early 2015 the UAE (United Arab Emirates) sent troops into combat for the first time since 1991. This time around the UAE forces had more modern equipment, some of it made by UAE firms. For example there were two locally made armored vehicles sent to Yemen; NIMR and Enigma. The UAE military has bought over 1,500 NIMR military trucks. NIMR is produced by a UAE company with an assembly plant in Jordan. It is a hummer-like vehicle designed to cope with the high heat and abundant sand and dust found in the Middle East. The basic 4x4 NIMR weighs 4.4 tons, can carry 1.5 tons (or up to eight people), and be equipped with a remote control 12.7mm machine-gun turret. Top speed is 140 kilometers an hour on roads. This version costs about $82,000 each. There is a larger 6x6 version for carrying cargo. There is also an anti-aircraft version armed with four Mistral missiles ready-to-fire and four more as reloads. An anti-tank version comes equipped with four Milan ATGM (anti-tank guided missiles) ready to fire and four more as reloads. All NIMRs are equipped to take a variety of armor kits (providing different degrees of protection against bullets and explosions). NIMR development began in the late 1990s and production began in 2005. NIMR was designed with the help of Russian automotive company GAZ, which also helped set up the manufacturing operation and supplies some of the components. There have been several export customers (all Moslem states) for NIMR.
Another new UAE armored vehicle sent to Yemen, the Enigma 8x8 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle), which only entered service recently and was still undergoing field testing. Despite that the 25 available Enigmas were sent off to war, where they have performed well. The Enigma is a 28 ton IFV with a V shaped bottom (for protection against mines and roadside bombs). It uses a Russian turret (the one for the BMP 3) and has a crew of three. Eight troops can be carried in the back. The turret is armed with a 100mm gun that fires laser-guided projectiles or several types of shells. In addition there is a 30mm automatic cannon and a 7.62mm machine-gun. Enigma was designed to handle other types of turrets including one with a 155mm howitzer or various missile systems. NIMR (the company that created the NIMR truck) has also developed an MRAP vehicle based on the popular South African RG35 design.
UAE troops in Yemen are armed with locally made CAR 816 assault rifles. This is another M-16 clone and has all the latest features and accessories.
Since the 1990s the UAE has invested heavily in defense manufacturers inside the UAE and the Middle East. One of these firms is Adcom Systems United which has been around for 25 years and produces a wide range of military equipment. It does this by licensing a lot of technology and forming partnerships with high-tech firms in the West. Adcom has been working on UAVs since 2003 and has delivered several models for both military, police and commercial use.
The UAE has been encouraging local companies to develop weapons for use by local forces and export markets. So far this has resulted in UAE firms manufacturing military trucks, guided missiles, and small arms. Despite this since 2008 UAE has become the third largest importer of weapons in the world and the largest in the Middle East. The other two big spenders worldwide are India and China. In the Middle East the UAE imports 50 percent more weapons than Israel.
The UAE is a confederation of small Arab states at the southern end of the Persian Gulf. With a population of only 5.5 million, and large oil and gas deposits, the emirates have a per-capita income of $43,000. Thus the UAE has a lot to defend and an increasingly belligerent neighbor just across the Gulf. The UAE controls one side entrance to the Gulf (the Straits of Hormuz). Iran is on the other end, and both nations dispute ownership of some islands in the middle.