Jordan Eyes Expansion of Domestic Defense Industry

By Tiron, Roxana | National Defense, May 2005 | Go to article overview

Jordan Eyes Expansion of Domestic Defense Industry


Tiron, Roxana, National Defense


The Jordanian government is taking steps to boost its domestic defense industry. In particular, a research and development center is achieving tangible results in building sophisticated technology for internal and border security, VIP protection, surveillance and emergency response.

While this equipment, in many cases, answers the needs of the Jordanian armed forces, the center, known as the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau, also is determined to expand its reach in the Middle East and North Africa, Col. Ghazi Khdairi, bureau deputy director general and director of scientific research, told National Defense.

An independent entity within the Jordanian armed forces that reports directly to the king, the bureau has its own laboratories, production and manufacturing Facilities. KADDB was established by royal decree in 1999 to provide independent scientific and technical services to Jordan's armed forces, in the process, the bureau also is assisting the Hashemite Kingdom in creating a sustainable industrial base.

After five years of operation, KADDB now has more than 30 development programs, said Khdairi. Most of the programs are carried out with the help of international partners and Jordanian companies.

"We are not an industrial country, and we bring in the necessary technology by identifying strategic international partners and work with them jointly to develop a product or a technology," he said.

When it started out, the company's focus was on converting and armoring existing trucks, land systems and tanks. While that has proven a mainstay for KADDB, it has started moving into building light aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. It also has begun efforts on soldier protection, such as helmets and body armor, Khadairi said. "So far, the work is being done in these areas to meet the requirements of the armed forces," Khdairi said.

According to bureau documents, part of the strategic direction for this year is to design, develop and evaluate wheeled and tracked armored fighting vehicles. In the process, KADDB plans to establish a series of joint ventures.

Plans involve expanding KADDB's expertise to communications, battlefield management and air defense systems. Aeronautics also is on the list, to include aircraft upgrades and systems integration. KADDB researchers specialize in software development, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, robotics and genomics.

The first priority is to meet military needs, said Khdairi. Business is balanced between the armed forces' requests and the bureau's push for its own technologies or concepts. One example of an idea generated by the bureau for the military is the Desert Iris Jeep. A multi-purpose vehicle, the Desert Iris was developed by Jordan Light Vehicle Manufacturing--a joint venture between KADDB and the United Kingdom's Jankel Group--and SHP Motorsports, also a U.K. company.

The Desert Iris has a Toyota 2.8 liter engine, manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. With a large load area, the truck can carry four soldiers in combat gear. A variety of weapons can be mounted on the Desert iris.

Jordanian forces used the vehicle during United Nations peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone. Now the vehicle is employed in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Libya, said Khdairi.

Technologies based on Jordanian military requirements have found markets outside the country, said Khdairi. Wheeled armored vehicles--basically commercial SUVs with extra armor--for counter-terrorism border and internal security "became successful nationally and internationally," he noted. These vehicles currently are used by the United Nations, he said.

In February, a cooperative venture between Abu Dhabi-based Bin Jabr Group and KADDB, called Advanced Industries of Arabia, won a $41 million contract to supply the UAE armed forces with the so-called Nimr 4x4 high mobility tactical vehicle. The Nimr order calls for 500 vehicles in a mix of four variants. …

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