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This New Wheeled APC Could Soon Boost Gulf Arab Militaries

May 15, 2019

Via Ukroboronprom.

One of the standouts at the IDEX 2019 arms show in Abu Dhabi last February was the Wahash APC from Calidus. The vehicle had a raised hull whose shape is meant for deflecting powerful explosions the same way as a mine-resistant truck. In another clear sign the UAE’s military industries are collaborating with foreign suppliers, the Wahash’ main armament was sourced from Ukraine. This earned it raves from Ukraine’s state-owned holding company that governs its weapon manufacturers.

Aside from substantial armor panels on either side of its hull, the Wahash supports a Ukrainian remote controlled turret called Shturm-M. Previously installed on the BTR-3 wheeled APC, the Shturm-M combines a 30mm cannon with a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun plus two Barrier anti-armor missiles.

The Wahash isn’t in production yet although its manufacturer Calidus has positioned it for regional sales; consider its present color scheme and emphasis on armoring. When it comes to mobility the Wahash runs on a 720 horsepower engine located in the front of the vehicle beside the driver’s hatch. This leaves enough room for the passenger compartment that seats eight people who enter from a reinforced swing door. The Wahash is able to move with a 10 ton payload, which implies its maximum weight reaches 30 tons–heavier than most tracked IFVs. But the Wahash has propellers for moving in water so armies that protect coastlines and train for river crossings (Egypt and Iraq) should take note.

Within the UAE, the Wahash competes with the UAE army’s preferred wheeled APC called the Rabdan. The latter combines an 8×8 Otokar Arma with a BMP-3 turret supplied by Russia’s Kurganmashzavod. The Rabdan scales as the heaviest wheeled fighting vehicle in its class at 35 tons and its firepower is enormous, with a tandem 100mm gun and 30mm cannon. Another advantage of the Rabdan is its localized assembly in a state-owned industrial park. The Wahash’ own product literature claims it too is able to mount a BMP-3 turret and alternative weapon modules.

Calidus’ experiment with a wheeled fighting vehicle is part of a trend among Arab states to produce indigenous military products. The Wahash comes less than a year after a Jordanian 8×8 APC called the Al-Mared was displayed at the SOFEX 2018 arms show outside Amman. Both the Emirati Wahash and the Jordanian Al-Mared emphasize armor protection and firepower, reflecting a new doctrine where high intensity combat against well-equipped insurgents (the Islamic State, Hamas, and the Houthis come to mind) are certain for the region’s standing armies. Israel’s own upcoming Eitan wheeled APC subscribes to the same principles and may enjoy a longer career than its Arab counterparts.

If the Wahash’ best prospects are outside the UAE, its appeal is strongest for armies eager to replace their aging Soviet BTR-series wheeled APCs and first-generation IFV’s like the BMP-1. It’s a worthy alternative too for older models such as the M113 APC, the Cadillage Gage V-series armored car, and converted pickup trucks. Add-ons like an active protection system and a gunshot detector enhance the Wahash’ selling points and its two beam-riding Barrier missiles have the range and punch of Russian Kornets. This means it’s equipped to take on reinforced buildings, tanks, and low-flying aircraft. As a complete package the Wahash’ reputation can travel as far as Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The company behind the Wahash is a private venture with a mixed work force of local hires and foreign employees. Founded in 2015, Calidus looks like it wants to grow on the back of surging exports. It’s the first company from the UAE to develop a propeller-driven multirole light aircraft patterned after the successful A-29 Super Tucano from Brazil. Calidus have advertised its B-250 attack plane with seven hard points for bombs, missiles, and rockets with a FLIR gimbal installed on its belly.

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