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This Spanish Company Wants To Sell Drones In The Middle East

March 11, 2019

The Zarek V2 at IDEX 2019. Via SDLE.

To nobody’s surprise, the largest arms show in the Arabian Peninsula drew exhibitors from every corner of the world. A particular niche that saw lots of activity during IDEX 2019, whose maritime component NAVDEX took place at the same venue, was the unmanned aircraft sector. A fresh entrant at Abu Dhabi’s premier military industry event was Star Defense Logistic & Engineering (SDLE) from Spain in its latest bid to snag clients from the region. SDLE already launched a new division to promote its UAVs globally. On display at IDEX/NAVDEX were an “indoor light drone” and its Zarek V2.

IDEX/NAVDEX 2019 took place at Abu Dhabi from February 17 to 21 and featured a remarkable amount of cutting edge technology from the unlikeliest sources. What lends the event such a high profile is the UAE’s openness to the world’s military-industrial companies, no matter how big or small. China and Russia, for example, enjoyed a strong presence together with other national pavilions. SDLE was keen on pushing its unmanned systems and in a press release shared with 21AAR, the company revealed the extent of its drone catalog. These include, “rapid deployment multicopters, fixed wing systems specially designed for ISR missions, and fixed wing UAV with the added value of VTOL.”

In 2018, the same year when it won a contract with the Jordanian army, SDLE were exhibitors at Egypt’s first major arms show in Cairo where the company showed its drones. Although its core expertise is in vehicular engineering, maintenance, and repair, SDLE have plans for growing into a service provider for emerging capabilities such us automation and artificial intelligence. In fact, SDLE were briefly involved in conferences with the Colombian armed forces on exploiting new technologies to achieve force modernization.

The Zarek V2 UAV put on display at IDEX/NAVDEX 2019 is a maritime variant that boasts a nine hour mission endurance and a cruising speed of 100 kilometers per hour. To complement its UAVs, SDLE unveiled its distinctive handheld “anti-drone system” for neutralizing the threat posed by low-flying pilotless aircraft. According to SDLE, their anti-drone system is suited for “protecting infrastructure and…highly ergonomic to transport.” Designed to be carried by a single operator, it’s able to block a targeted drone’s telemetry,video link, and guidance system.

The UAE remains an attractive market for drone manufacturers and IDEX/NAVDEX 2019 saw strong participation from this niche. Leading aerospace companies from China and the US brought inert models of their MALE surveillance drones to the show. General Atomics in particular wanted to prove its Sea Guardian–another variant of the Predator B–was a solid choice for watching the coasts of the Emirates. Undeterred, even Pakistan’s sate-owned GIDS was at IDEX/NAVDEX 2019 hoping to publicize its own successful unmanned platform. But SDLE’s determined push for its Zarek V2 faces competition from another drone company, Arcturus UAV from the US, whose Jump-series of lightweight VTOLs share the same appearance as its Spanish rival.

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