Armed with a distinguished experience in suiting regional conditions, NIMR, which is a subsidiary of EDGE group’s Platforms and Systems department, has risen to become a pioneer in the field of high-performance light and medium-wheeled military vehicles, and to get to know the company’s fields of work and prominent projects better, “Al-Jundi” interviewed “Abri du Plessis”, CEO of “NIMR” and had the following dialogue with him:
Talk to us about NIMR and its fields of work in general.
NIMR is the UAE’s leading armored vehicle manufacturer with a strong presence in the GCC and MENA regions. The company has come a long way since commencing operations with our first vehicle, NIMR1, in 2000. Since then, the company has grown from strength to strength, with our vehicles building a global reputation for their agility, reliability, and versatility.
Today, NIMR has an extensive portfolio of mission-proven military vehicles capable of addressing the most demanding duty-cycle requirements. We are currently delivering several significant projects that reinforce our position as the leading manufacturer of combat-proven armored vehicles with complete in-house design and production capabilities for a variety of platforms to meet a diverse range of user requirements.
To meet the increasing demand for military vehicles in the region and across the world, NIMR operates a 37,500m2 production facility in Abu Dhabi, which is the largest military vehicle manufacturer in the region and competes with the largest international producers.
The company has pioneered many firsts in the region in an eventful two decades, and we look forward to building on our success and pursuing new avenues of growth.
How important is the UAE and GCC market to NIMR?
NIMR was established over 20 years ago as a strategic asset to the UAE. Our core priority is to build the nation’s sovereign capabilities and ensure that our primary customer, the UAE Armed Forces, is equipped with state-of-the-art armored vehicles that meet their operational needs. We have built a strong alliance with our partners in the Ministry of Defence, and we have learned some valuable lessons throughout the years that have helped us improve the usability and functionality of our products.
Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, we have built a strong strategic relationship with SAMI, culminating in the manufacturing license agreement signed during the inaugural World Defense Show held in Riyadh in March 2022. The agreement mandates NIMR to provide technology transfer for the manufacturing of the JAIS 4×4 vehicle in Saudi Arabia and to support further development of SAMI’s supply chain and manufacturing capabilities to ultimately enable local production.
The landmark deal represents the first military-industrial collaboration between UAE and Saudi Arabia and catalyzes further cooperation between the two countries.
The GCC region is a huge market and therefore holds important potential and opportunity for us. We look forward to boosting our alliances in the region and continuing to develop products that are competitive and attractive in the international market.
What products is NIMR offering in the UAE and Gulf region?
Our AJBAN family of vehicles is designed for use in a wide range of specialist military roles. They offer high levels of survivability, mobility, and firepower.
Launched in 2021, the AJBAN Mk2 is a second-generation vehicle designed for functions such as tactical response, border patrol, reconnaissance, counterinsurgency, and special forces operations. The range also comprises AJBAN 420, AJBAN 440, AJBAN 450, AJBAN Long-Range Special Operations Vehicle (LRSOV), and AJBAN Internal Security Vehicle (ISV).
On a related note, the HAFEET class armoured vehicle provides a multi-purpose platform for all military requirements, from utility vehicles to fully protected patrol vehicles. A universal 6×6 chassis is utilized for a common logistic footprint to minimize the burden of training, maintenance, and spare parts management for the user.
Also launched in 2021, the HAFEET Mk2 offers an optimal combination of payload, mobility, and protection in the harshest environments and it can be integrated with a variety of mission and weapon systems.
The first generation of these vehicles has gone through extensive usage with the armed forces over the past 20 years, and we have learned some very important lessons about certain aspects that could be improved in terms of reliability, desirability, and usability.
We have taken all of this into account when developing the second generation of our vehicles and we are immensely proud to now offer best-in-class platforms that can compete on a global level.
Finally yet importantly, the JAIS class is the next generation of mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles that strike the right balance between firepower, survivability, and mobility for modern, conventional, and asymmetric operations.
The vehicle has a battle-proven ‘crew citadel’ ,which protects against mine, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and ballistic threats.
The JAIS 4×4 is another one of NIMR’s ‘hero’ products, selected by SAMI as their vehicle of choice following extensive trials.
NIMR offers complete end-to-end solutions including various mission system integration and thorough life support for both armored and soft-skinned vehicle platforms.
The UAE has been diligent in urging companies to prioritize the issue of localization. What has NIMR done in this regard?
The UAE has a clear vision of transitioning to a knowledge-based economy and becoming an exporter of technology to ensure long-term prosperity for current and future generations. As a nation, the UAE is renowned for its ambition, vision, and prioritization of technology.
Developing sovereign defense products and solutions is one of NIMR’s primary objectives, and we are taking every step to ensure that our UAE-made products have great export potential on the regional and global levels.
NIMR’s vision is aligned with that of the nation, and we are proud to have signed a significant agreement with SAMI for the transfer of technology. This first-of-its-kind cooperation between the two countries is a hugely important achievement, not only for NIMR but also for the UAE.
Similarly, we have a joint venture in Algeria to produce the NIMR vehicle range and we are also working to expand our footprint in Eastern Europe to enable localized manufacturing and production, and help build sustainable businesses there.
In addition, EDGE is part of MoIAT’s National In-Country-Value Program that seeks to redirect public and private sector procurement to the local economy in line with “Operation 300Bn”.
What are NIMR’s recent biggest accomplishments in the defense sector and what are its future plans?
The launch of the second generation of AJBAN and HAFEET comes after years of continuous hard work, development, and testing. Leveraging all of the lessons learned over the last 20 years, we set out to ensure the platforms provide cutting-edge capabilities so that we could be competitive not just for our local customers, but for the international market as well.
We maintained the same DNA of the vehicle but completely upgraded all of its specifications. We doubled the vehicles’ payload, increased the crew capacity, improved the vehicles’ maintainability, updated the electrical architecture, and most importantly, dramatically increased the protection level.
In addition, the agreement that we signed with SAMI is one of the biggest highlights for us. Following years’ worth of hard work in Saudi Arabia and demonstrating the JAIS vehicle in extreme trials, we felt a wonderful sense of achievement when we signed the licensing agreement with SAMI.
I am pleased to say we have a strong sales pipeline for our products, and the second generation of our vehicles has garnered huge interest from both local and international customers, particularly in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, and Africa.
We are also currently upgrading our product portfolio and hope to showcase these in the early stages of 2023.
Abri du Plessis is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIMR, an EDGE entity, and he is responsible for the business growth of NIMR, regionally and internationally through their competitive products and services.
He has 20 years of leadership experience in Project Management, IT, Operations, and Engineering, 10 of which are at the executive level.
Prior to joining NIMR, he worked as Director of Projects, Engineering, and IT at Denel Vehicle Systems in South Africa. In his role, he was responsible for managing and leading the total product lifecycle, from concept to after-sales support.
Earlier, Abri completed a tenure at BAE Systems Land Systems SA, where he served in several leadership positions as Director of Projects and Engineering, Director of International Projects, and Director of IT and Business Excellence.
Abri holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Pretoria, in South Africa.
He has a B Com degree in Information Systems and a Diploma in Datametrics and Computer Science, both from the University of South Africa and has also completed an Executive Development Program at Henley Business School in South Africa.
» Interviewed by: «ALJUNDI»