The Jordanian government is taking steps to boost its domestic
defense industry. In particular, a research and development center
is achieving tangible results in building sophisticated technology
for internal and border security, VIP protection, surveillance and
While this equipment, in many cases, answers the needs of the Jordanian
armed forces, the center, known as the King Abdullah II Design and
Development Bureau, also is determined to expand its reach in the
Middle East and North Africa, Col. Ghazi Khdairi, bureau deputy
director general and director of scientific research, told National
An independent entity within the Jordanian armed forces that reports
directly to the king, the bureau has its own laboratories, production
and manufacturing facilities. KADDB was established by royal decree
in 1999 to provide independent scientific and technical services
to Jordan’s armed forces. In the process, the bureau also
is assisting the Hashemite Kingdom in creating a sustainable industrial
After five years of operation, KADDB now has more than 30 development
programs, said Khdairi. Most of the programs are carried out with
the help of international partners and Jordanian companies.
“We are not an industrial country, and we bring in the necessary
technology by identifying strategic international partners and work
with them jointly to develop a product or a technology,” he
When it started out, the company’s focus was on converting
and armoring existing trucks, land systems and tanks. While that
has proven a mainstay for KADDB, it has started moving into building
light aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. It also has begun efforts
on soldier protection, such as helmets and body armor, Khadairi
said. “So far, the work is being done in these areas to meet
the requirements of the armed forces,” Khdairi said.
According to bureau documents, part of the strategic direction
for this year is to design, develop and evaluate wheeled and tracked
armored fighting vehicles. In the process, KADDB plans to establish
a series of joint ventures.
Plans involve expanding KADDB’s expertise to communications,
battlefield management and air defense systems. Aeronautics also
is on the list, to include aircraft upgrades and systems integration.
KADDB researchers specialize in software development, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance, robotics and genomics.
The first priority is to meet military needs, said Khdairi. Business
is balanced between the armed forces’ requests and the bureau’s
push for its own technologies or concepts. One example of an idea
generated by the bureau for the military is the Desert Iris Jeep.
A multi-purpose vehicle, the Desert Iris was developed by Jordan
Light Vehicle Manufacturing—a joint venture between KADDB
and the United Kingdom’s Jankel Group—and SHP Motorsports,
also a U.K. company.
The Desert Iris has a Toyota 2.8 liter engine, manual gearbox and
four-wheel drive. With a large load area, the truck can carry four
soldiers in combat gear. A variety of weapons can be mounted on
the Desert Iris.
Jordanian forces used the vehicle during United Nations peacekeeping
operations in Sierra Leone. Now the vehicle is employed in Saudi
Arabia, UAE and Libya, said Khdairi.
Technologies based on Jordanian military requirements have found
markets outside the country, said Khdairi. Wheeled armored vehicles—basically
commercial SUVs with extra armor—for counter-terrorism border
and internal security “became successful nationally and internationally,”
he noted. These vehicles currently are used by the United Nations,
In February, a cooperative venture between Abu Dhabi-based Bin
Jabr Group and KADDB, called Advanced Industries of Arabia, won
a $41 million contract to supply the UAE armed forces with the so-called
Nimr 4x4 high mobility tactical vehicle. The Nimr order calls for
500 vehicles in a mix of four variants. The first batch will be
delivered this June. The vehicle has a custom-made cooling system,
which allows troops to operate in extreme weather conditions. The
Nimr will be manufactured at a KADDB plant in Jordan.
The bureau now is working extensively to upgrade and integrate
systems for battle tanks and combat vehicles. In partnership with
Raytheon, KADDB is upgrading the M60 A3 tank with an integrated
fire control system.
The Phoenix program improves the tank’s shoot-on-the-move
capabilities, lethality and survivability. The IFCS consists of
a gunner’s primary sight system, a ballistic computer and
an enhanced turret stabilization system. Part of the program is
the replacement of the M60’s 105-mm rifled cannon with the
Swiss RUAG land systems L 50 120-mm smoothbore compact tank gun.
The first M60 A3 tank battalion upgraded with the Raytheon system
is operational. Another three battalions will follow by 2007.
The IFCS also is being installed in the Al Hussein hybrid tank,
a former British Challenger 1 tank outfitted with the RUAG 120 mm
smooth bore gun. Additionally, KADDB is planning to install a new
auxiliary power unit on the Al Hussein tank. This APU also is proposed
to the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense for the country’s
Challenger 2 tanks, said a company official. The U.K. supplied Jordan
with 400 Challenger 1 tanks as part of a government-to-government
Another project, called Falcon, is aimed at the development of
a highly survivable, reduced-silhouette turret capable of firing
105 mm guns and all types of NATO 120 mm smoothbore ammunition.
The design of the Falcon turret places the crew below the turret
ring. The reduced volume helps to diminish the vehicle’s profile.
In conjunction with Mechanology Design Bureau of South Africa,
CLS Jordan and General Dynamics, KADDB is working on the Temsah
tracked heavy infantry combat vehicle. It can operate alongside
the most advanced battle tanks.
The Temsah is can be equipped with reactive armor and has a front-mounted
engine to increase protection. It can carry a crew of two and up
to 10 troops. The vehicle can be configured as a tracked ambulance,
command post or a mortar/howitzer platform.
KADDB is collaborating on a series of projects with the Jordanian
armed forces. Monjed P2 is a recovery vehicle based on the chassis
of the decommissioned U.S. M60A1 tank. Monjed can be used for recovery
and repair of tanks in the battlefield. The vehicle carries a range
of repair equipment, including a crane, cutting material and air
Another system, Armored Shield, provides protection for .50 cal.
machine gun operators on the M113 and the URUTU armored personnel
carriers. The project was initiated in response to an urgent requirement
of the military in support of units deployed on U.N. operations.
The 90-kilogram shield protects from all directions. Ballistic proof
windows provide vision in different directions.
In partnership with the armed forces’ Royal Maintenance Corps,
KADDB is able to supply new and refurbished armored fighting vehicles.
KADDB has been touted as the first company to develop military
unmanned vehicles in the Arab world. The design and development
bureau worked in 2001 with Jordan Aerospace Industries in a joint
venture, called Jordan Advanced Remote Systems, to develop a series
of tactical drones. “In this case, the need came from the
military, and it is almost a given that they are going to use the
UAVs,” said Khdairi.
The Falcon UAV is designed for surveillance missions. It performs
real-time day and night reconnaissance, remote sensing, surveillance
and target acquisition up to 50 kilometers. The Falcon has a two-stroke
engine that burns a mixture of gas and oil. The UAV has an endurance
of four hours but could be equipped with additional fuel tanks for
The system’s ground control station is available in tabletop
or shelter-mounted configurations.
The Silent Eye is a backpack portable UAV used for scouting missions,
area and perimeter control, highway monitoring and surveillance.
It is also suited for search-and-rescue mission support and convoy
The Silent Eye can be assembled and disassembled in less than 15
minutes, officials said. Advanced system autonomy enables hands-off
operation of the system from takeoff through recovery.
The I-Wing is a mini UAV with a 1.25-meter wingspan, which can
be carried by two people in a lightweight, waterproof case and is
shoulder launched. The wings and tail of the I-Wing are stored in
a folded position, but immediately unfold when rocket-launched.
On reaching a 100-meter altitude, the hard propellant engine is
ejected, and an electric motor is automatically started.
The Jordan Arrow is an aerial target system that is intended for
both air-defense training and testing of weapon systems. The Arrow
simulates a variety of air defense threats. The target is a recoverable
UAV equipped with power plant, automatic flight control system,
recovery parachute and modular multi-version mission payloads.
A sizeable part of KADDB’s income comes from government contracts.
The company also funds internal research projects, or partners with
other firms to share the costs and, if the products are sold, the
“The focus of the company will be based on the need of the
region,” Khadairi noted. Strategic partnerships with U.S.,
British, South African, Jordanian and Emirati firms, among many,
help the company survive and succeed in the region.