Ahmed Al Khoori Senior Vice President – Strategy & Excellence, EDGE Group to «Al Jundi»: Exporting unmanned technologies to the world We are developing a sovereign defence ecosystem within the UAE

EDGE Group is one of the leading advanced technology and defence conglomerates globally‭, ‬Specialising in unmanned and autonomous systems‭, ‬EDGE Group is dedicated to accelerating the pace of technological advancement and enhancing indigenous capabilities in the United Arab Emirates‭.‬

To get a closer look at this leading group and its work in the unmanned and autonomous systems sector‭, ‬Al Jundi Journal interviewed Mr Ahmed Al Khoori‭, ‬the Senior Vice President for Strategy and Excellence at EDGE Group and had the following dialogue with‭ ‬him‭:‬

Talk to us about EDGE Group and its subsidiaries‭’ ‬fields of work in autonomous solutions and its most prominent products‭ ‬

EDGE is a leading advanced technology and defence conglomerate‭, ‬combining 25‭ ‬entities and a portfolio of 160‭ ‬innovative products‭ ‬and solutions across all the main military settings‭, ‬including space‭, ‬marine‭, ‬land‭, ‬and air‭. ‬Since our entry onto the market only four years ago‭, ‬we have made rapid advancements in the field of unmanned systems‭, ‬expanding our range from one to forty autonomous solutions‭. ‬

Our most recent strategic investments in SIATT and ANAVIA have yielded quick returns‭, ‬with substantial orders from the Brazilian‭ ‬Navy and a letter of intent from the UAE Ministry of Defence for the MANSUP-ER system‭. ‬A further example of our commitment to developing advanced solutions can be found in our REACH-S UAV‭, ‬which‭, ‬within two years of its launch‭, ‬had completed testing and had secured an order for 100‭ ‬units‭. ‬

These achievements not only highlight the pace of our product development but also reinforce global confidence in the quality and effectiveness of our autonomous systems‭, ‬solidifying our leadership in this domain‭.‬

How important is the UAE and GCC market for unmanned and autonomous solutions‭?‬

Headquartered in the UAE‭, ‬we play a pivotal role in our home market and actively seek to foster valuable partnerships with other‭ ‬GCC nations‭ ‬–‭ ‬especially in the field of unmanned and autonomous solutions‭. ‬

Our mission also goes beyond commercial interests‭. ‬In firm alignment with the objectives outlined by the UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology‭ (‬MoIAT‭), ‬EDGE is dedicated to establishing a self-reliant defence industry in the‭ ‬UAE and positioning the country as a formidable global player in the advanced technology sector‭. ‬To this end‭, ‬we have made significant progress‭, ‬our presence in the UAE has been firmly established‭, ‬and we have a global footprint spanning 50‭ ‬countries and‭ ‬5‭ ‬continents‭.‬

How has the landscape of unmanned and autonomous solutions evolved in recent years‭, ‬and what role do you see EDGE Group and its‭ ‬subsidiaries playing in shaping the future of this industry‭?‬

In recent years‭, ‬evolving global defence needs and rapid innovation in the advanced technology and military sectors have set new‭ ‬benchmarks‭. ‬EDGE stands ready to meet these challenges‭, ‬with cutting-edge maritime‭, ‬airborne and ground-based capabilities‭. ‬Our‭ ‬pioneering developments in smart weapons and cyber technologies‭, ‬as well as our harnessing of Industry 4.0‭ ‬technologies such as‭ ‬artificial intelligence‭ (‬AI‭), ‬allow our products and solutions to be adapted with state-of-the-art technology to neutralise the‭ ‬latest threats or dangers‭. ‬In the coming years‭, ‬we will also continue to converge advancements made in the commercial market with military capabilities‭, ‬ensuring the rapid delivery of innovative products and services to our customers‭. ‬

Could you share some insights into the key challenges and opportunities in developing and implementing unmanned technologies‭, ‬particularly within the context of EDGE Group’s strategic vision‭?‬

One of EDGE’s key strategic priorities is to develop a sovereign defence ecosystem within the UAE and expand our unmanned technologies portfolio for export onto the global market‭. ‬To achieve such an objective‭, ‬we have focused our strategy on three key areas‭: ‬First‭, ‬developing our autonomous capabilities across air‭, ‬land and sea and incorporating AI and Machine Learning‭ (‬ML‭) ‬features to counteract threats‭. ‬Second‭, ‬building our base of electronic warfare technologies and secure communications‭. ‬Lastly‭, ‬expanding our arsenal of advanced armaments for smart weapons‭. 

EDGE Group is known for its commitment to innovation‭. ‬Can you highlight some of the cutting-EDGE technologies or advancements in‭ ‬unmanned systems that the company is currently working on or planning to explore soon‭?‬

As new threats emerge and the security landscape shifts‭, ‬we remain committed to developing the most advanced technologies and acquiring highly specialised defence companies‭. ‬In the past two years‭, ‬we have acquired 12‭ ‬ground-breaking companies‭, ‬many of which specialise in the development of autonomous air‭, ‬land‭, ‬and sea systems‭, ‬such as Milrem Robotics and ANAVIA‭. ‬We also proudly boast UAE-developed unmanned capabilities from HALCON‭, ‬ADSB and ADASI‭. ‬Our range of autonomous solutions now covers precision-guided systems‭, ‬loitering munitions‭, ‬armed robotic vehicles and fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms‭, ‬among other capabilities‭.    

Security is a paramount concern‭, ‬especially in autonomous systems‭. ‬How does EDGE Group address cybersecurity challenges associated with unmanned solutions‭, ‬and what measures are in place to ensure the integrity and safety of these technologies‭?‬

At EDGE‭, ‬we dedicate ourselves to developing robust cybersecurity solutions for our customers and have substantially enhanced our cyber capabilities over the past year‭. ‬The acquisition of ORYXLABS has added award-winning cybersecurity solutions to our portfolio‭, ‬offering effective monitoring of organisations‭’ ‬IT landscapes and identification of potential vulnerabilities in digital‭ ‬infrastructure and networks‭. ‬Additionally‭, ‬our entity KATIM continues to reinforce our leadership in secure communications‭, ‬providing ultra-secure smartphones and post-quantum network encryptors to ensure the constant security of sensitive data‭.‬

EDGE Group has a global presence‭. ‬Can you share some insights into how the company tailors its unmanned solutions to meet the diverse needs of different regions around the world‭?‬

Unique environmental and operational challenges in the region and across the world necessitate bespoke solutions‭. ‬As such‭, ‬our products are customisable to meet specific operational needs‭, ‬demonstrating our commitment to tailored solutions for our customers‭. ‬We also ensure close collaboration with end users to understand their specific needs and invest significantly in R&D to enhance our solutions and bolster competitiveness‭, ‬ensuring the optimal performance and effectiveness of our products‭. ‬

The integration of artificial intelligence is a key component in autonomous technologies‭. ‬How is EDGE Group leveraging AI in its‭ ‬unmanned systems‭, ‬and what benefits or challenges have emerged from this integration‭?‬

AI is a driving force in the defence industry and has the potential to transform our capabilities across autonomous systems and‭ ‬smart weapons‭. ‬Equipped with AI‭, ‬autonomous systems can increase end-user power and dramatically decrease the danger to human life‭. ‬As such‭, ‬we invest significantly in AI development‭, ‬partnering with key players to improve the efficiency‭, ‬accuracy‭, ‬and responsiveness of our systems‭.‬

How would you evaluate your recent experience and participation in UMEX‮ ‬2024‭?‬

UMEX 2024‭ ‬was an outstanding success for EDGE‭, ‬where our role as the event’s strategic partner for the sixth edition facilitated‭ ‬new partnerships with key industry players‭. ‬We also introduced three new unmanned solutions‭ ‬–‭ ‬GY300‭, ‬BUNKER PRO‭, ‬and M-BUGGY in the air and land domains‭. ‬UMEX has always been an ideal platform for us to showcase our diverse portfolio of advanced remotely piloted and autonomous solutions‭, ‬affirming our progress over the past four years‭, ‬our ambitions as an advanced technology leader‭, ‬as well as our expanding global‮ ‬presence‭.‬

‬‭   ‬» Interviewed by‭: «Al Jundi»

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