The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) is a biannual tri-service defence exhibition showcasing the latest products and technologies for Army, Navy and Air Force.
Evolution of IDEX
Since the first exhibition in 1993, IDEX has been steadily growing and attracting new exhibitors and visitors. After a few years, it became the most important defence exhibition in the Middle East; and now a lot of industry professionals call it “the most strategically important defence exhibition in the world.”
In 2017, more than 105,000 visitors from 142 countries attended IDEX. Over 1,300 exhibitors displayed their products at the ADNEC, or Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Large halls and a very well thought-out expo navigation system with maps and information stands and English-speaking personnel made the overall exhibition experience much better.
Surely, IDEX has come a long way since 1993, when the exhibition was organized in the middle of the desert at the UAE Air Force base, inside hangars with no air conditioning or any other proper facilities we take for granted now.
Now, IDEX is one of the more enticing defence shows to visit. Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, is a beautiful coastal city with great beaches, luxury hotels and a lot of activities for any visitor, including kids, in case you want to turn a business trip into a family vacation.
Another great advantage of IDEX is the fact that it has exhibitors and attendees from all over the world, including countries that typically do not participate in any other defence exhibitions because of various political reasons.
Even though small arms are not the primary focus of IDEX, there were quite a few companies presenting interesting firearms.
In 2013, Colombian company INDUMIL presented its new 9mm pistol, Cordova. Since 2013, Cordova evolved into a series of handguns, which includes a full-size pistol, its compact size version and “tactical” version with longer barrel and slide cuts. Upon closer examination, I found that Cordova pistols have two unusual features. First of all, the magazine release is unlike anything you’ve seen before. To drop the magazine, one must push it forward. The advantages of this design are unclear, as well as the purpose of a special removable cover for a Picatinny rail that all Cordova pistols have. Other than that, Cordova seems to be a standard modern service pistol with a double/single-action trigger mechanism, plastic frame, removable back straps and a slide-mounted safety, which also functions as the decocker.
There are few places where one can see Jordanian weapons, and IDEX is one of them. In the recent years, the Jordanian company called “JAWS” (Jordan Armament and Weapon Systems) developed a line of pistols called “JTP”—Jordanian Tactical Pistol.
It has a double- / single-action trigger mechanism; plastic frame and frame-mounted safety and was clearly inspired by the CZ75 design. There are two versions of JTP: full size and compact, both use 17-round magazines.
Another handgun manufactured by JAWS is a 1911. Currently, the factory offers two versions of JAWS 1911: standard and custom, both chambered for 45 ACP. The custom version has an integrated compensator, Picatinny rail and night sights. Recently, this pistol could be seen in the YouTube video where King of Jordan Abdullah II and his son are participating in a firearms training session. The custom JAWS 1911 was the King’s back-up weapon, and he seemed to be very proficient with it.
Russian Concern Kalashnikov brought to the exhibition its new AK- variants: AK-15 and AK-203. Both rifles have Picatinny rails on the receiver cover and handguard, M4-style adjustable telescoping stocks and ergonomic pistol grips. SADJ had a detailed article about the AK-12/AK-15 in Volume 10, No. 4, “AK-12 and AK-15—5th Generation Kalashnikov Rifles for the 21st Century Russian Military.”
During the exhibition, the Indian government announced a procurement deal for 750,000 AK-203 rifles. Most of the rifles are to be manufactured in India at the new production facility in Korwa.
Sudan always has some of the most visually impressive booths at the entire exhibition. This time their stand looked like an ancient fortress lost in the desert. Sudanese small arms on display included a copy of a PKM machine gun called MOKHTAR, a copy of an SVD called MOKHTAR-1 and a KHAWAD-1 anti-materiel rifle that was missing a pistol grip.
While the concept of MSBS, a modular rifle that can be reconfigured into a bull-pup, has been around for a while, development of the .308 version-only started at the end of 2015. First pictures of the new rifle were released in September 2018.
The original MSBS chambered for 5.56×45 was developed at Fabryka Broni Łucznik-Radom, a large and well-known manufacturer of Polish AKs such as “Tantal,” “Beryll,” as well as the PM63 submachine gun and other prominent weapons.
Caracal, state-owned firearm manufacturer from United Arab Emirates, presented many interesting firearms in its booth. One of the new products Caracal showcased was the CMP9 submachine gun. Chambered for 9×19, operated by simple blow-back, this weapon has an AR-15-style safety/selector mechanism, bolt release and charging handle. Since the company currently has a branch in the U.S., it is safe to assume that pistol caliber carbines based on the CMP9 will eventually be available on the U.S. market.
Traditionally, Russian companies have a huge presence in IDEX. For many international visitors, it might be the only opportunity to see some of the strange and interesting Russian small arms “in the flesh.”
This time, Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau had two different 50-caliber sniper rifles: OSV-96 and VKS.
Several years ago the author had a chance to shoot an OSV-96. It is a semi-automatic, anti-materiel sniper rifle chambered for Russian 12.7×108 rounds. Magazine capacity is five rounds; the rifle is gas-operated with a rotating bolt that has four locking lugs. Recoil was pretty mild, thanks to a large muzzle break. I would say that OSV-96 was more comfortable to shoot than a lot of rifles chambered in .338 Lapua.
While I didn’t have a chance to conduct a proper accuracy test, I never missed a metal plate that we used as a target, and it was 500 meters away. Being an anti-materiel rifle first, OSV-96 cannot demonstrate minute-of-angle accuracy but is still accurate enough for the intended purpose.
VKS is an entirely different design. It is a suppressed, straight pull bolt-action bullpup sniper rifle. VKS is chambered for proprietary 12.7×55mm subsonic rounds. While the concept might sound appealing, the reviews from the field were all but flattering. Snipers complained that the heavy subsonic bullet has the, quote: “trajectory of a brick,” making long-range shooting almost impossible. Other issues include poor ergonomics, stoppages and less than desirable accuracy. Hopefully, this weapon will be upgraded in the future, since the concept has some value.
Without a doubt, IDEX is one of the best defence shows in the world right now and is a must-visit event for anyone who wants to do defence- and security-related business in the MENA region.
SHOW MASTER INFO: International Defence Exhibition & Conference
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
+971 (0) 2 406 3362
For Operations Inquiries
+971 (0) 2 406 3548
Nasma Al Ameri
+971 (0) 2 406 3750
For media Inquiries
Dana Al Hanaee
+971 (0) 2 406 3860
February 21-25, 2021, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
Defence and military products, technologies and solutions
There are plenty of food and snacks at the show. In 2019, organizers added several spots for food trucks inside the courtyard. Many regional cuisines are available; just keep in mind that the food at the show can be quite expensive.
There are plenty of hotels in Abu Dhabi, but since IDEX attendance is getting bigger every year, by the first day of the exhibition all hotels in the city are already booked. The author suggests that you try to book at least six months in advance.
Power & Plug Types
220 volt 50 cycle. Abu Dhabi uses both the standard European two prong and the UK-style three large prong outlets, so prepare for both.
United Arab Emirates is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world. It is quite westernized and liberal by Islamic country standards, but you still have to be careful about certain aspects of culture.
If you’re with your family, spouse or significant other, keep in mind that public display of affection such as hugs, hand holding, kisses are punishable by law. The internet is heavily censored, and many popular messengers such as WhatsApp do not support calls while you’re in the UAE. Generally, avoid any conflicts with citizens of UAE, since in the court of law you will be depicted as an aggressor and ultimately lose the case.
Service charges on restaurant bills generally go to the restaurant (not the staff), so it is best to give your server cash directly. Tipping is for excellent service; 10% is an adequate amount for most restaurants and bars.
United Arab Emirates dirham (AED). Check the currency exchange rate at www.xe.com.
An overwhelming majority of hotels, restaurants and other venues will take credit cards, but having some cash in local currency is always a good idea. Personal checks are not used.
Public transportation in Abu Dhabi is limited; most IDEX attendees use taxi or hire minibuses. Uber is available as well as many taxi companies. Keep in mind that most taxis do not have a GPS, so you would have to know exactly where you going–address and notable landmarks near your destination.
Most of the time you cannot pay with your credit or debit card in a taxi (you can in Dubai), so make sure you have cash and sufficient amount of change.
Abu Dhabi offers a wide variety of restaurants, nightlife and shopping malls, most prominent being Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall.
Typical activities include desert safari–you can off-road ride in the desert on a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 or museum-quality 1950s Land Rovers, if you prefer vintage vehicles. After a thrilling ride, tourists typically spend some time in a desert camp and enjoy dinner and shows.
If you have enough time, you can spend a couple of days in Dubai, visit the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, and enjoy the unique atmosphere this city has.