22 Feb 15. The official grand opening ceremony of the International Defence Exhibition, “IDEX”, provided a spectacular start to the 12th edition of the exhibition at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The impressive and entertaining show blended music, culture and a demonstration of military capabilities that delighted the assembled guests. Attended by a large number of distinguished guests including His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and the Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir. The grand opening ceremony provided a fitting commencement for one of the world’s most strategically important defence exhibitions. This year’s edition of IDEX features more than 160 international delegations. The ceremony opened with a performance from the Military Marching Band of the United Arab Emirates. They strode into the middle of the arena to a mesmerizing beat from pipes and drums. This was followed by a multi-media presentation detailing the history of IDEX, before two more military displays: The Honor Guard of the Army of Belarus demonstrated a rifle drill a demonstration of marching set to music which showcased incredible precision timing. They were followed by a traditional music display from the Military Marching Band of the Republic of Korea. The show continued with a cultural performance celebrating the traditions and culture of the United Arab Emirates. Traditional Ayalla and Al Razfah dancing; Al Hajana camel men songs, falcon displays, Al Khayyala horse work and Al Taghrouda songs, as well the pearl divers songs Al Naham, and traditional songs by children. A film followed bringing to life some of the excitement around the show with testimonials for participants and there were individual thanks for the 55 countries participating in this edition of IDEX, including six countries participating for the first time. Excitement followed in the second half of the show, with a live enactment of a fictional scenario in which an elite group of friendly forces liberated a port from terrorist control. The enactment featured air drops, low passing jet fly-bys, helicopter and naval support, gun battles and fast moving pursuits involving tanks and armoured cars, culminating in the successful liberation of the port. A dramatic fly by from the Al Forsan, the aerobatics demonstration team of the United Arab Emirates Air Force, spiraling above the grandstand drawing the colours of the United Arab Emirates national flag provided the perfect fitting finale to a spectacular show.
22 Feb 15. The United States expects no near-term sales in the Gulf region for the F-35 warplane, saying current fourth-generation military aircraft with new upgrades are capable of handling the threats the region faces, the Pentagon said on Sunday. “I do not anticipate any near-term sales for the F-35 in the region,” Frank Kendall, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics, told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “I think it would be a very sensitive sale to try to bring about for a lot of reasons.” The F-35 Lightning II is built by Lockheed Martin Corp and is a so-called “fifth-generation” warplane designed to be nearly invisible to enemy radar. Kendall said the threats confronting the region can be dealt with adequately with current fleets such as United Arab Emirates’ 80 Block 60 F-16s. The country had requested these to be upgraded to Block 61, which would carry stand-off weaponry, and had also requested an additional 30 Block 61 aircraft. French firm Dassault Aviation sold 24 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt this month, triggering industry sources to say other regional governments might also consider the aircraft. A senior French source told Reuters last week that Qatar was in the final stage of negotiations regarding 36 Rafale jets. The UA