Iron Dome Fails to Make the Selection Cut in UAE, Impressive Debut by Israel at Dubai Airshow 2021


Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: The success of some Israeli defence industries that became public during the Dubai Airshow is over shadowed by a major failure – the fact that the UAE has selected a South Korean air defence system and not an Israeli system like the land version of the Barak -8 or Iron Dome.

Israeli senior sources that have participated in the event in Dubai blamed the Israeli ministry of mishandling the potential deal from the beginning. “The ministry has not read the map correctly and therefore made many mistakes that lead to this surprising disappointing result,” one senior defence source said. He added that the international arms market has changed while the Israeli ministry of defence still sees this market in its previous “dimensions”.

The source also said that the potential deal failed in the G to G phase when the negotiations were conducted by defence officials from both countries. Another defence source said that the Koreans won the contract mainly because they offered a “full package” consisting of joint manufacture and other joint ventures.


The Israeli ministry of defence was asked for a comment but has not delivered one. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) defence ministry said Tuesday that it was close to acquiring the Korean M-SAM Block 2 air defence systems.

In a tweet, the UAE defence ministry called the M-SAM, developed by Korean defence company LIG-Nex1, could “constitute a qualitative addition to the capabilities of the national air defence” and that the purchase could be worth as much as $ 3.5 billion.

The South Korean M-SAM Block-2 is designed to intercept medium-range threats – surface-to-air missile system that was developed to replace Korea’s MIM-23 HAWK systems. Each M-SAM battery consists of a multi-function radar and usually four launchers, each carrying eight vertically launched missiles in canisters.

While this failure is seen as a major blow, some other Israeli defence industries were very successful. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with EDGE, to jointly design a series of unmanned surface vessels (USV) for the entire range of military and commercial applications.

EDGE is leveraging its entity, ADSB, the regional leader in the design, new build, repair, maintenance, refit and conversion of naval and commercial vessels, to collaborate with the Israeli defence company to develop the state of the art USVs. While ADSB will design the platform, integrate the control systems and payload, and develop the concept of operations (CONOPS), IAI will develop the autonomous control system and integrate various mission-payloads to the control system units according to the mission requirements.

Comprising of advanced sensors, sonars and imaging systems that are integrated into a unified command and control system, the USV can operate either remotely, semi-autonomously, or autonomously, requiring no human intervention. Designed to suit all customers’ requirements, the bespoke vessel will offer unique capabilities in terms of modularity, payload, range, manoeuvrability, and performance.

Military applications for the USV include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, border and littoral zone patrol, maritime security operations, mine detection and sweeping, submarine detection and anti-submarine warfare, deployment platform for VTOL vehicles and can also be customised for commercial applications such as oceanography, pollution monitoring, oil and gas exploration, transportation of materials and liquids, search and rescue, fire-fighting and first interventions.

Faisal Al Bannai, CEO and Managing Director of the EDGE Group said that the MOU is an important milestone for EDGE to forge collaborations with leading defence players such as IAI to strengthen our advanced technology portfolio.”

Boaz Levy, President and CEO of IAI said that this MoU brings together the best technological knowhow from both companies – EDGE Group’s and ADBS’ naval and commercial vessel expertise, and IAI’s expertise in autonomous systems, robotics, and artificial intelligence – for a joint Made in UAE effort, maximizing both companies business opportunities and growth.”

Another success is the establishment of Elbit Systems Emirates (ESE), a company that will seek to foster a long-term cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, oversee customization of solutions to operational needs of end users and lead the transfer of technologies to local partners.