A wide range of Sudanese weapons and military equipment are currently on display at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) in Abu Dhabi.
All the weapons are produced by the state-owned Military Industry Corporation (MIC). Since its establishment in 1993, MIC has strongly expanded its production, making Sudan the third largest weapons producer in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.
President Omar Al Bashir attended the Idex opening ceremony on Sunday. He arrived at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday, accompanied by a an 11-member delegation, comprised of Ministers of the Presidency, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Investments, Electricity, Minerals, Livestock and Fisheries, Labour, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and the head of police.
It is Al Bashir’s first official trip to the UAE since 2008. MIC spokesman, Ali Osman Mahmoud, said that the visit represents an effort on the part of the Sudanese government to improve ties with the UAE, Khaleeej Times reported on Monday.
An international arms embargo was imposed on Sudan in the early 1990's. “We ourselves had to meet the needs of our armed forces and reach self-sufficiency,” Mahmoud explained. “We have reached a level in which we are producing genuine, highly-efficient products. We now hope that we can compete with other countries.”
He said that all Sudanese weapons systems are battle-proven, and have been tested in the field. “Our army is already using these very same products.”
“We would like to pursue new technologies and get up to date, in the area of electro-optics, for example. We now have enough technologies that we are able to computerise, and upgrade all our systems,” the MIC spokesman added.
The MIC presented the Khalifa-1, a self-propelled D-30 howitzer, capable of sending a 122-mm projectile to strike targets up to 20km away; the Khatim-2, which has been identified as the Sudanese version of the Iranian Boraq-2 IFV, which is similar to the Russian BMP-2; a mobile version of the Taka 107 mm multiple rocket launcher, as well as the Nimir long-range patrol vehicle; an unarmoured Tamal tactical vehicle, and the Sarsar-2 armoured reconnaissance vehicle, that is listed as being armoured to the Russian CEN level BR6.
A stabilised remote weapon station called the Ateed appeared to be identical to the ARIO-H762, which is made by an Iranian company.
Other new products on the main stand appeared to be of Chinese origin, among them the Sarib anti-tank guided missile, which strongly resembles the Chinese HJ-8 optically tracked, wire-guided system on the lightweight launcher. Another Chinese weapon, the 35 mm QLZ-87 automatic grenade launcher, of which the MIC says it produces under the name Ahmed was not on display.
Among the Sudanese-produced vehicles on display are self-propelled mortar and rocket-launching systems, and smaller vehicles for use on long-range patrols over rough terrain. Many of the MIC vehicles are designed to operate on long-distances in remote areas.
Sudan participated at the Idex for the first time in 2013.
(Sources: Khaleej Times, Sudan Tribune, Sudan Vision Daily)