BEIRUT — Emirati vehicle-maker Nimr has signed a memorandum of understanding during a local trade show with Singaporean firm ST Engineering to develop a hybrid electric drive system, Nimr announced.

The planned system detailed in the memo, which was signed during the Feb. 21-25 International Defence Exhibition and Conference, has the potential to be installed in Nimr’s Hafeet Mk 2 and Ajban Mk 2 armored vehicles.

“It is a result of the strategy to have maximum commonality between the two Mk2 vehicles, which will drive down costs and reduce the logistic footprint for fleet owners,” Nimr CEO Abri Du Plessis told Defense News. “The replacement of mechanical elements by more flexible and lighter electrical systems will increase vehicle efficiency, providing power for all required equipment including communication, electronics and weapon systems.”

Nimr has already showcased the concept design and technology elements in a life-size mock-up of an Ajban Mk 2. Nimr also unveiled at IDEX an autonomous version of the four-wheel drive armored vehicle.

“The hybrid electric engine is seen as a key element for the future introduction of complex sensors and electronics in combat vehicles. It will be more organically linked to such systems than to mechanical ones, and will simplify the integration of [artificial intelligence] AI technology,” the executive said, adding that more intelligent combat vehicles will mean better situational awareness and improved responses to threats.

The new characteristics are intended to improve the vehicle’s range, acceleration and stealth capabilities, as the hybrid electrical drive system is quieter than conventional engines. The hybrid electric drive system is also expected to produce less emissions than standard engines.

“Conversations around hybrid electric technology in the automotive industry are on the increase, and naturally this is echoed in the defense industry,” Du Plessis said. “There are several advantages of implementing hybrid electric drive systems, including improvement of acceleration and fuel economy, silent mobility and silent watch capabilities, and enhancement of onboard electric power generation.”

The CEO also said his company is looking into a range of commercial solutions, whether hybrid or fully electric, to explore how it can incorporate more technology into its products.

Lee Shiang Long, the president of ST Engineering’s land systems business, said in a statement that the hybrid electric drive system was originally designed for commercial applications.

Teams in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore are cooperating on the project from their respective locations. The next step is to finalize a detailed design.

“Plans are to have a running prototype within a year that can be used for extensive testing and characterization. Following that, the system will be fully industrialized in accordance with customer requirements,” Du Plessis said.

The system’s kit will be prepared by ST Engineering, with the vehicle and all other mechanical parts and interfaces handled by Nimr.

Agnes Helou was a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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