In a move unveiled at the Dubai Airshow, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and EDGE, a technology group, have joined forces to integrate UAE-made smart weapons onto GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and EDGE, the UAE-based technology group, announced an agreement at the Dubai Airshow. The collaboration involves integrating EDGE smart weapons onto GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian, marking the first instance of UAE-made smart weapons being incorporated into a US unmanned platform.

GA-ASI President David R. Alexander expressed enthusiasm for the initiative, “We’re excited to work with EDGE on this initiative,” “Integrating home-grown capabilities onto our customer platforms is something we’ve done a lot, but we’ve never before integrated a non-NATO weapon system onto one of our RPA platforms.”

Under this agreement, GA-ASI and EDGE will collaborate to integrate precision-guided munition (PGM) and guided-glide weapon (GGW) solutions from EDGE onto the MQ-9B SkyGuardian. The inclusion of the DESERT STING family of GGWs and THUNDER family of PGMs from HALCON, along with the AL TARIQ family of modular, mission-proven, all-weather day/night long-range PGMs, further enhances the capabilities of the MQ-9B.

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EDGE was formed by bringing together 25 of the nation’s defence firms, and its focus is to spearhead the development of advanced weapons for the country’s military, according to GloblData’s “The UAE Defense Market 2023-2028” report.

Hamad Al Marar, President of EDGE Group’s Missiles & Weapons cluster, expressed pride in working with GA-ASI, “We are proud to be working with General Atomics Aeronautical. The opportunity to integrate our smart weapons on the MQ-9B SkyGuardian will offer the end user multiple dynamic, highly accurate, and cost-effective ground strike solutions. We look forward to working closely with General Atomics Aeronautical on this programme and to enhancing our collaboration in the future.”

The partnership holds strategic significance, as it opens avenues for the potential integration of domestically developed sensors and weapons onto the MQ-9B, benefiting the UAE and other customers. GA-ASI aims to establish more partnerships within the UAE defence industry, strengthening ties and fostering technological advancements.

As the UAE Armed Forces, which currently operate GA-ASI’s Predator XP, work towards acquiring the MQ-9B, this collaboration underscores the potential for continued growth in U.S.-UAE defence relations.