The Straits Times
Published on Feb 19, 2013

Drone manufacturers target rising Gulf Arab demand


ABU DHABI (REUTERS) - Global demand for drone aircraft is especially strong in Gulf Arab states worried about regional instability, industry executives said on Monday, as a big US manufacturer unveiled the first sale of an unarmed Predator to the Middle East.

Controversy over the legality of attacks by missile-firing drones will not dampen the volatile region's enthusiasm for the technology, in part because export curbs mean most equipment sold will be for use only in reconnaissance, experts say.

Mr Sello Ntsihlele, executive manager for UAVs at Denel Dynamics, a division of state-owned Denel, South Africa's biggest maker of defence equipment, told Reuters this was "the best time" for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sales.

"I can't be specific but all countries in the Arabian Gulf are talking to us," he said on the sidelines of the biennial International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).