DUBAI — Transnational threats and the conflict in Yemen have spurred land force developments across the Middle East, especially in the last nine months.
The fight against Islamic State extremists in Iraq is driving massive procurements, according to reports from Baghdad. And the fall of oil prices will not derail some major armament projects, the reports stated.
Sources have stated that the Iraqi Defense Ministry has tendered to buy 500 four-wheel-drive military vehicles this year to make up for the losses against the Islamic State group.
Since the beginning of operations against ISIL, Iraq has petitioned the United States to buy 1,000 M1151A1 up-armored Humvees, 1,000 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 1,000 MK-19 40mm grenade launchers, commercial radios, communication equipment and spare parts and training estimated at $579 million, according to the US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency.
Iraq also requested in November spare parts to support the Abrams tanks and M1070 heavy equipment tactical trucks.
Operations in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia, which include the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, have resulted in many casualties for the land forces that have been deployed since July. Approximately 10,000 men have been deployed recently in addition to the initial 4,000 that were involved in the operations to retake the southern port city of Aden.
"Saudi Arabia has the largest ground force in the Arab gulf forces, and they are equipped with modern and highly capable weapons. Its land forces is expanding and estimates of its size differ," Cordesman stated in his report, "The Arab-U.S. Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf."
"This coalition has allowed the Saudi Arabian military to improve and manage its command-and-control system," said Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi expert at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
According to the armored vehicle market analysis, wheeled vehicle acquisition is clearly on the rise as more governments look at six- and eight-wheel-drive vehicles to cope with the terrain, and because of their lower maintenance costs.
During the conflict in Yemen, Oshkosh vehicles were deployed by the UAE and Saudi forces to support the Yemeni forces
At the beginning of operations in July, a coalition official told Defense News that Saudi Arabia has deployed 45 mine-resistant, ambush-protected Oshkosh M-ATVs, while the United Arab Emirates has deployed 50 Emirati-made Nimr four-wheel-drive multipurpose armored vehicles as well as 25 Emirati-made Enigma eight-wheel-drive infantry fighting vehicles.
This is the first deployment of the 8x8 Enigma as the vehicle was first unveiled at the Abu Dhabi International Defence Exhibition in February.
The vehicle, produced by Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Defense Technology, was set to undergo trials this summer with the UAE armed forces, company CEO Mohamed al-Suwaidi told Defense News during IDEX 2015.
The vehicle, al-Suwaidi said, was designed based on rigid UAE armed forces requirements to fulfill tasks including being able to carry BAE Systems' variant of the M777 howitzer artillery gun.
The vehicle features include a steel-armoured monocoque hull, which can be provided with scalable levels of ballistic, mine blast and IED protection.
No information has been provided on the vehicles' field deployment in Yemen.
Awad Mustafa is a Middle East and Africa correspondent for Defense News.