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The UAE Is Now In The Missile Business

February 7, 2022
Via Halcon/EDGE Group.

As disruptive as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is it had a negligible effect on advances in military technology. This was apparent at IDEX 2021, the most high profile arms show in the Middle East, where the UAE’s state-owned EDGE Group–a conglomerate that controls all armaments manufacturing–pushed its subsidiary Halcon’s new range of guided munitions. The highlight of their catalog was the HAS-250 anti-ship missile that’s loaded two at a time on a repurposed commercial truck. The significance of the HAS-250 is understated as the Emiratis now possess the essential building block for long-range tactical missiles.

The HAS-250’s is classified as a subsonic–or “high subsonic” to be generous–anti-ship or coastal defense missile. The few details revealed about were focused on its best characteristics; effective range is an impressive 250 kilometers and it’s compact enough for a light transporter. Halcon repurposed an Iveco commercial truck of the Astra series and installed two box launchers on its bed. The irony is Iran, against whom the UAE is engaged in a proxy war, uses Iveco trucks for its own coastal defenses and other combat vehicles.

In fact, the similarities between the HAS-250 and the Chinese-made C-802 (also known as the YJ-83) anti-ship missile, which is the basis for the Iranian Noor and Ghadir anti-ship missiles, brings to light useful comparisons. As noted they are deployed with repurposed commercial trucks. The Ghadir missile is particularly dangerous as its effective range covers the opposite shores of the Persian Gulf when readied anywhere along Iran’s coastline. However, the publicity surrounding the Ghadir is still up to interpretation since its range is superior compared with other subsonic anti-ship missiles. Iranian media have claimed the Ghadir can strike targets 300 km away but also confused the range with radius, which brings it to a realistic 150 km, which is a credible figure since its sibling the Noor only has a maximum range of 120 km.

The HAS-250 compares favorably to other subsonic anti-ship missiles in the region such as the Turkish ATMACA manufactured by Roketsan and the Russian Kh-35UE by KTRV. Judging by appearances alone the HAS-250 and the ATMACA look identical to each other and almost have the same dimensions but this could stem from their being subsonic cruise missiles with sea skimming flight trajectories. The quick evolution of the ATMACA into the KARA ATMACA, a land attack cruise missile with extended range, could indicate Halcon’s own approach to its most powerful munition. Adapting the HAS-250 for a land attack variant presents no technological hurdle and the transporter of choice is available–Iveco trucks.

The UAE’s approach to organizing its military-industrial sector under a single conglomerate is the norm across the Middle East. Jordan did the same with KADDB and likewise Saudi Arabia with SAMI. Going back decades, Egypt established the precedent with the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) and Iraq was no different in the 1970s and 1980s albeit these state-owned enterprises fell with the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The UAE’s current levels of military spending and the technological foundations being laid by aerospace manufacturers like Halcon will make the 2020s the crucial decade for the Emirates’ military-industrial sector. There’s no doubt EDGE Group’s catalog is positioned for lucrative exports as this has been achieved with the vehicles under the Nimr brand.

Below is a specification chart for the HAS-250 and its peers among high subsonic anti-ship missiles. Details were gathered from the manufacturers as well as open sources. The HAS-250 compares favorably to some and is even superior when up against older models.

HAS-250UAE250 kmINS/GPS/radio altimeter1,200 kg435mm5.4m
ATMACATurkey>220 kmINS/GPS/radio altimeter700 kg440mm5.2 m
GhadirIran300 (?) kmINS/GPS715 kg360mm3.96 m
Exocet Blk. IIIFrance200 kmINS/GPS/radio altimeter780 kg350mm4.7 m
Kh-35UERussia260 kmINS/Glonass/radar 620 kg420mm4.4 m
Harpoon Blk. IIUSA280 kmINS/GPS690 kg343mm4.62 m

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