Eastern Eye in the sky – Blog from the United Arab Emirates

Keeping an eye on Mideast assets

The case for integrated civilian and military ISR/ C4ISR strategies

UMS SKELDAR’s Middle East Operations Director and former RAF officer Ewen Stockbridge Sime, blogs from the United Arab Emirates where he is preparing for UAV test flights at Al Ain, as part of the UMEX 2016 , the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi 6-8 March 2016. The demonstrations are being held for invited senior military and civilian guests from the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) and other key international observers including from NATO and embassy military attaches. Ewen was instrumental in introducing ISR as a capability to the UK Military and in assisting the US Air Force to understand and implement tactical real time intelligence generation.


You don’t need to be a student of current affairs to understand that the Middle East is a crucible of tumultuous geopolitics. It is the most militarised region in the world. The region boasts a plethora of natural resources, yet remains a focus of political tensions. Long standing enmity manifests in sporadic outbursts of hostilities against a backdrop of historic disputes along ethnic and religious fault lines. The juxtaposition between wealth generation and political instability makes this a challenging environment for Governments or humanitarian agencies. The list of hot topics range from Israel and Palestine, through to the Syrian/Iraqi/Turkish borders, Egypt and the Gulf States to Iran and the Caucuses hinterland of Southern Russia and beyond. From this, a patchwork of various humanitarian, economic and political concerns arise, which all need to be monitored and managed.

In this potentially volatile and shifting landscape, governments and international agencies alike are looking for positive civil and security outcomes. This is where ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) plays a pivotal role in strengthening border security, which in its wider context is crucial in combating threats of smuggling, terrorist financing and pressures on national sovereignty.  However, at the physical end of the spectrum of security challenges, the sheer number of borders in the Middle East, many of which traverse remote terrain, has traditionally made border integrity and protection incredibly difficult and potentially a veritable sink hole of manpower, assets consequently inordinately expensive. According to a report released this week ‘Global Land Based C4ISR Market: Analysis of Growth, Trends Progress and Challenges (2015-2020’) the Air Based C4ISR systems market will be the fastest growing amongst all types of C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) by 2020. This will be led by increased acquisitions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Saudi Arabia on account of better border protection and surveillance will be one of the fastest growing countries in the Air Based platform. As one of the world’s largest designers and manufacturers of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), our teams with R&D and production facilities both in Switzerland and Sweden provide cutting edge technology that is transforming border security capabilities in the Middle East and globally.




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The largest gas resource
in the world is “South Pars / Northern”








For example, the F-330 Fixed Wing aircraft has many advanced abilities such as automatic take-off and landing, a scalable ground control station and plug and play sensors including Hyperspectral capability. In its current configuration, the F-330 is fitted with the CM-160 Electro Optic and Infra-Red gimbal which provides continuous full motion video for up to 5 hours. The system is portable and can operate from semi prepared strips, or in a separate configuration, and can be launched by catapult. It is an ideal system for those interested in border security, energy resource protection, infrastructure surveying, UAS Training and tactical support to the military.

In this strategic region and worldwide, UMS SKELDAR is helping its customers to gather the necessary intelligence they require more quickly and efficiently than ever before

When you consider that Dubai is just over three hours flight time away from Mumbai, and just double that by sea across the Arabian Gulf, between the UAE/Qatar/Bahrain coastline and Iran, it can be easily understood that the Middle East is a complicated network of trading routes, cultures and political states and therefore plays a pivotal role on the world stage, attracting interest from the global power blocks. The tip of the Northern Emirate Ras al Khaima is less than 40 kilometres from the Iranian coast (which has the longest coastline on the Gulf measuring 735 nautical miles) across the Straights of Hormuz. Most of Saudi Arabia’s coastline lies on the Red Sea (1,020 nautical) with  296 miles border on the Arabian Gulf. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the fifth-largest state in Asia and second-largest state in the Arab world (after Algeria).  Governments, military and civilian organisations from this region and beyond are therefore looking for fully integrated systems that incorporate an extensive range of security requirements.


Strait of Hormuz









 The conflict between Iran and the UAE around these three islands in the Persian Gulf not only has a long history, but ties up into a sole knot problems of the strategically important islands and Bahrain.

In a landscape as complex as this region, border security is not just an issue in itself, it can put the brakes on economic development more widely and compromise wider military and political strategic considerations. Key for UMS SKELDAR is working with customers to bring about the best border security solutions. Integrated ISR and for that matter SAR (Search and Rescue) solutions demand by definition smart deployment of financial resources. Assets needs to be utilised to ensure that they are effectively used. UAV platforms provide just that by cost effective means of monitoring border activity as an integrated platform and essential part of any serious ISR strategy.

For business enquiries, contact Ewen Stockbridge Sime:  ewen.stockbridge@umsskeldar.aero