debkafile reports: Russia sets up arms and helicopter co-production industries in Jordan to promote sales to Arab countries
A little-noticed but highly significant defense exhibition took place in Amman from March 26 to 30 of weapons and equipment designed for special operations forces, security services and anti-terrorism units.
SOFEX 2006 displayed more than 150 items including helicopters transports for special forces, armored vehicles, air defense systems and equipment for storming fortified buildings.
The big surprise was a new, powerful recoilless grenade launcher, RPG – the first product to roll out of the new Russian-Jordanian JRESCO firm based in the northern town of Zarqa. debkafile‘s military sources describe RPG-32 Hashim as weighing 10 kg (including a 7 kg grenade), with an effective range up to 700 m and equipped with an optical sight and two kinds of grenades – whose tandem cumulative can pierce 650mm of armor, which makes every tank in the world today, including Israel’s Chariot, vulnerable.
Also unveiled at SOFEX 2006 was a second Russian-Jordanian firm, this one for the manufacture of helicopters ks226, a light craft developed by the Russian emergency situations ministry for security forces patrols, search and rescue operations and firefighting. The Russians undertake to establish alongside their joint plant a center in Jordan for training pilots and maintenance technicians.
A number of transactions were signed at the exhibition.
debkafile adds: Moscow has earmarked substantial investment and effort for establishing a joint munitions industry in Jordan, marking a new arms sales policy for Arab markets. Gone are the days of massive sales of Russian-made weapons to Arab nations. Moscow is focusing nowadays on co-production with local firms, so as to providing regional buyers with local amenities in manufacturing and sales, as well as on-site venues for Russian salesmen to get together with potential Arab buyers. Moscow will also work through local arms merchants in Jordan and other places, using their connections and knowledge of neighboring markets in the Arab world and Persian Gulf.
The training center for helicopter pilots is part of the Putin government’s long-term strategy for promoting Russian sales. Purchasing governments will not longer have to send flight crews and arms experts to Russia for instruction, but can have them trained near home in a familiar Islamic environment.