Emirati defence and aerospace conglomerate, EDGE Group, has announced the opening of its new ‘X Range’ – a defence, aerospace and commercial products testing, evaluation and training ground facility.

X Range will provide exclusive, end-to-end testing services and facilities for platforms, systems and sub-systems across the air, land, sea, and electronic warfare (EW) domains.

EDGE designed the range to accelerate the development of infantry weapons; smart weapons; autonomous systems; naval vessels; command, control, computers, communications and intelligence (C4I) systems; and EW solutions.

Features of the X Range

Located on a 350km square island, the range will include a 3,800m runway for large aircraft, as well as a 1,200 metre runway for unmanned aircraft with an air danger area permanently closed to 10,000 feet.

In addition, the island will be equipped with an urban training village for special operations rehearsals, an island-wide digital communications network and a dedicated shoreline for marine and landing exercises.

The range will be made available for commercial use by third-party clients soon.

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The range is the first international facility of its kind to be based in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region. “X Range will bring sophisticated, flexible and comprehensive testing capabilities to the heart of the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South Asia region,” Mansour Al Mulla, managing director and CEO, EDGE Group stated.

“X Range is a testament to our commitment toward the advancement of defence and security capabilities, both globally and locally, acting as a strategic asset for the future of security in the region.”

Competing with the rise of simulation and digital twinning

Although the experience gained from a simulation cannot completely engender the real-world pressures of operating defence products, nevertheless the global military simulations market will see an uptick.

GlobalData intelligence projected the market’s valuation to be worth $28.9bn last year, anticipating a rise to $37.2bn by 2032, registering a compound annual growth rate of 2.7% during the forecast period.

Confident in the technology’s ability to fill the training gaps in the UK Royal Air Force, the former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston championed the service’s faith in the sector, saying it marked a “paradigm shift” in training pilots to grow to a competent standard.

The simulation market is anticipated to be dominated by the land simulation segment, which accounts for 80.2% of the market, followed by the air simulation segment with a 12.8% share.

Other areas in this sector include the use of digital twinning technology. This area allows defence manufacturers and agencies to design, troubleshoot and enhance concepts in a virtual, risk-free environment.

This places less reliance on physical test and evaluation centres such as EDGE’s new X Range as these facilities are more costly and time-consuming in the long-run.

In a world plunged into a new era of defence mobilization, defence suppliers are beginning to face the dilemma of balancing cost, capability, and a timely delivery. This has prompted the pan-European missile manufacturer, MBDA UK, to make use of its own Digital Battlespace Facility.