Al Tariq missile on LCA Tejas

  • Visible on Indian fighter LCA Tejas

By Sangeeta Saxena

Dubai. 15 November 2023. No eyes while walking past the LCA Tejas on the flight line at Dubai Airshow 2023, could have missed seeing the UAE made AL TARIQ missile integrated on the indigenously made Indian fighter.  ”We had discussion with the Indian Air Force and  we are offering AL TARIQ as part of  Make in  India, in a combined effort with HAL as the aircraft integrator and BDL as our technology partner in India,” informed Theunis Botha, Chief Executive Officer AL TARIQ in an exclusive interview to Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU) at the recently concluded Dubai Airshow 2023.

ADU. AL TARIQ is prominently visible at the Dubai Air Show 2023. Do tell us about its showcasing here?

TB. Yes, thank you. The Dubai Airshow is always a very good showcase. It’s a local show for the UAE. Being an airshow, it’s very relevant for us since we are air to ground weaponry. As you can see around the show, we have integrated AL TARIQ on a number of aircraft and we are in the process of expanding the footprint of Al Tariq around the globe.

At this airshow, the operational configuration of the P 2000 is shown, which is also relevant to the Indian Air Force. It’s also on the Archangel, which is a  ground attack aircraft for border control. It’s integrated on that, but we showcasing the full complement of AL TARIQ and all the modular versions in the Mark 81, mark 82, and Mark 83 class, or the one 20 kilogram, one 50 kilogram and four 50 kilogram with the three seekers, which, presents a very unique family. As a comprehensive solution to a potential user. We’re also showcasing AL TARIQ on the Indian LCA Tejas where we signed an agreement to integrate it for the purposes of demonstrating it to the Indian Air Force. So we hope to have that integration complete towards the end of quarter two, start of quarter three in 2024.

ADU. So does that mean that the UAE is buying the Tejas?

TB. It means that we are offering the AL TARIQ as an air to ground, as one of the solution to the Indian Air Force. So we had discussion with the Indian Air Force and we are offering it as part of the Make in India,  government initiative, in a combined effort with HAL as the aircraft integrator and BDL Bharat Dynamics Limited as our technology partner in India. So the purposes of this integration is to start with HAL. Do the integration to show the Indian Air Force that it is possible to integrate and then offering the system to them by demonstrating the performance of the system from the LCA sometime next year, late next year. Right. So this system is very unique and as you rightfully point out it’s now more and more widely accepted as the leading long range precision guided munition in the world.

ADU. Has AL TARIQ attracted other airforces in the region?

TB. The very long range, the high precision that we’re offering, and the superior modularity, having three different seekers from three different payload classes, all weather, day and night and being a very flexible solution to a potential user, our international footprint is also expanding. Egyptian Air Force has also chosen to use AL TARIQ integrated on their platform. And there are a few friendly air forces around the UAE, that we are in discussions with to offer it as well, apart from India. All indications are that we’re making very good progress. So I hope that within the next foreseeable future, the AL TARIQ will become an everyday name for air forces around us,  apart from the UAE.

ADU. Currently what is the export market?

TB. Currently the confirmed export market that I can share is Egypt. There are some others that we are not yet at liberty to share, but we’ll hopefully share within the next foreseeable future. And then the number of air forces that we are, as I said, in contractual discussions already in place, which are very promising. So I think the value of a system like this has now slowly started to be seen by the Air Forces because of the modularity. It creates a very flexible solution for the war fighter.

ADU. Which aircraft is it integrated into in the UAE Forces?

TB. In the UAE forces it is integrated on the Hawk and on the Mirage 2000. As you can see, it’s also shown on the archangel.  It’s integrated on all non US aircraft  for the UAE. The weapon system is therefore operational and we are in production at the moment. So, uh, you know, I want a good launch.  Pretty healthy.

ADU. And the production line is here in Dubai itself?

TB. All the R& D, development, design and production is done in Abu Dhabi in the EDGE facilities.

ADU. How has the footfall been here at the show for Al Tariq?

TB. Yeah, we’ve had a lot of interest from friendly air forces around the world, basically and they’re starting to realize the value of a system that is this modular, having such a formidable range and capabilities. So the show has been really good for us. And also, as you can see it is being offered on the General Atomics UAV, which showcases the fact that this weapon system is becoming more and more, visible  to the air forces and therefore, you know, helping our international campaigns. So, which means that it’s also starting integration on, a number of unmanned systems. One is the General Atomics that I can mention. There are more that we are unfortunately not yet ready to disclose.  But in essence the platforms that are being flown  by the UAE Air Force, it becomes a mandatory requirement for UAE designed weapons.

ADU. When it comes to unmanned systems,  is it a different missile or same as we see in fighters?

TB. Depending on the class of the, of the UAV, we’re offering, uh, we have two ranges of AL TARIQ’s that you see here, and on the side there we have what we call the X Series. The X Series is specifically designed for the smaller platforms, being the smaller turboprops, as well as the smaller UAVs. So the X Series is a slightly shortened version with reduced weight, but still retaining the same operational capability and modularity.

ADU. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TB. I think there are a lot of new developments still ongoing with this family. The family is continuously expanding. We’re also continuously talking to aircraft manufacturers to support us in offering AL TARIQ as a catalog item as part of their aircraft campaigns and we have good interaction with a number of key aircraft manufacturers around the world. So I think this is also with the Edge footprint that is becoming bigger in the world, which is also helping us.

ADU. And lastly I’d like to ask you is that at AL TARIQ is everything done right from design to research and development to manufacturing, in UAE or is it collaboration with some other countries?

TB. In AL TARIQ we do everything ourselves. We have a supply chain. We have all the R& D under our control, all the software and mechanical design is under our control. We do our own missile flight testing in the country. But as far as the Edge group is concerned, a big portion of R & D is done in the UAE, in the EDGE facilities, but the group has also signed various cooperation agreements with businesses around the world. So, the intention of that is to inject other technologies into the technology stream and make it available for the EDGE group of weapons.

 Editor ADU Sangeeta Saxena interviewing AL TARIQ CEO Theunis Botha at Dubai Airshow 2023