LAHAB has the region’s most advanced and diverse manufacturing, assembly and integration capabilities for a wide product range that includes small, medium and large calibre ammunition for infantry, artillery and aircraft, and it serves regional armed forces and law enforcement agencies, as well as industrial customers that require ammunition testing and technical support services. Arafat Al Yafei, CEO of LAHAB speaks about emerging technologies and smarter ammunition designs. Excerpts from the interview:
While seeking to become the default supplier of ammunition for the UAE and region, LAHAB is exploring potential areas for collaboration in significant markets around the world, especially in the GCC, South Asia and Africa.
Arafat Al Yafei, CEO of LAHAB
Arafat Al Yafei is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing of all ranges of ammunition from small arm and infantry to artillery and aircraft. He is also responsible for leading the deployment of cutting-edge technologies and the enhancement of in-country manufacturing capabilities. Arafat possesses extensive experience in the deployment, development and distribution of ammunition to fulfil the demands of the UAE Armed Forces, along with regional partners.
Prior to joining LAHAB, formerly known as Barij Munitions, Arafat served as the CEO of Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture Company, a joint venture between ADNOC and Masdar, where he led the establishment of the first commercial carbon capture and utilisation project in the Middle East.
LAHAB began its operations in 1994 with small arms manufacturing and launched production of medium and large calibre weapons in 2008. Having more than 25 years of experience in defence and security sectors, could you give a detailed picture of the company’s close association with militaries, law enforcement agencies and sports clients during these years?
LAHAB’s portfolio features small-calibre arms ranging from the 5.56×45 mm to 12.7×99 NATO as well as shotgun ammunition for sporting, hunting and special applications, including law enforcement, right through to medium- and large-calibre weapons ranging from 40 mm grenades to 122 mm artillery rockets, and MK series GP serial bombs.
Our high-end manufacturing and assembly facility enables us to maintain agility and flexibility in responding to client needs, and quickly customise products for mission-specific requirements. Our advanced manufacturing capabilities are complemented by comprehensive testing and technical support services, providing continuous expert support throughout the munition’s lifecycle – from assembly to decommissioningthrough our demilitarisation services for almost all types of explosives and pyrotechnics.
As leading munitions manufacturer meeting international quality and security standards, could you give us an overview of the products and services offered by LAHAB? Who all are the major clients globally?
At LAHAB, our manufacturing, assembly and integration capabilities are among the region’s most diverse and efficient. Our product range includes small,mediumand large calibre ammunition (5.56 x 45mm, 7.62 x 51mm, 9 x 19mm, 12.7 x 99mm, .308 WIN and .223 REM, grenades, mortars, artillery ammunition, aircraft bombs) ammunition. LAHAB also has the capability to perform the Service Life Surveillance (SLS) programme for all munitions types tosupport the UAE military. We additionally offer complete explosive and ammunition end-of-life demilitarisation for almost all types of explosives and pyrotechnics, featuring disassembly, separation and incineration using on-site safe demilitarisation that is monitored by government authorities to ensure our compliance and fulfil our commitment to the environment. LAHAB also disposes of commercial mining, oil, and gas products.
Even while harnessing the latest technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities, have you been able to develop your own intellectual property and technology to meet the customers’ evolving requirements?
With our research and development capabilities we have developed and licensed our own intellectual properties. Our Continuous Improvement Programme is focused on adopting cutting-edge technology advances that include process optimisation and high-precision tools.
Being a supplier to regional armed forces and law enforcement agencies, what are the international standards and specifications followed by LAHAB to ensure quality and safety for the end user?
To ensure our products’ compliance and adaptability in the international weapon systems we follow international standards such as the NATO standards and others. Also, we always ensure our products will work on our clients’ weapons by providing proper certificates.
Could you elaborate on LAHAB’s ‘Continuous Improvement Programme’, which is intended to adopt cutting-edge technologies including process optimisation and robotics production using high-precision tools?
Emerging technologies and smarter ammunition designs are part of the DNA of the LAHAB research & development team, which drives our Continuous Improvement Programme. Our state-of-the art x-ray inspection lab provides advanced testing capabilities – making it one of the most effective non-destructive testing (NDT) facilities available in the region to assure product completeness and quality.
Given LAHAB’s experience and expertise,its production lines continue to evolve to meet the quick advancement of technology. We adapt our strategy to ensure the safety and security of our employees and facilities.
We are also committed to adapting to market changes, particularly in integrating technologies. LAHAB acquires, adopts, and implements cutting-edge technologies – not only in terms of products, but also within the manufacturing process. We ensure that we meet the changing requirements of our customers.
With advanced manufacturing capabilities complemented by comprehensive testing and surveillance programmes, how does LAHAB look at South Asia and Africa as markets for expanding its business?
LAHAB currently serves both regional armed forces and law enforcement agencies, as well as industrial customers that require ammunition testing and technical support services. We are seeking to become the default supplier of ammunition for the UAE and region. We are currently looking to export our products internationally, considering them most suitable for markets in the GCC, South Asia and Africa. We are always open to explore potential areas for collaboration in significant markets around the world.
The defence industry across the world is bearing the brunt of Covid-19 pandemic. What are the measures taken by LAHAB to overcome the pandemic effect and what are the post Covid-19 plans?
The ongoing pandemic has created a challenging operating environment for most commercial companies around the world, and LAHAB and its parent company, EDGE Group, are no different. We are fortunate to enjoy deep and trusted relationships with our customers, so there is an attitude of confronting the challenges together. LAHAB’s executive leadership has also been proactive in foreseeing the potential effects of the economic slowdown prompted by the pandemic, and have acted accordingly. The safety of staff, partners and customers has been of the highest priority to LAHAB’s internal approach to mitigating the effects of the virus.