As Chief Executive Officer of CARACAL, Hamad Al Ameri has been successfully spearheading its operational and business growth story. Prior to his role at CARACAL, he was Business Development Director at Emirates Defence Industries Company (EDIC) and has around two decades of experience and expertise in the defence industry. He holds a Master of Science in Project Management from George Washington University, US, and a Diploma in Commissioning Military and Academic Training from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK and has served as an Special Forces Officer in the UAE Presidential Guard.
In an interview with PK Ghosh of Raksha Anirveda, Hamad Al Ameri explains about the company’s present business activities, its market and the future planning among others. Here is an excerpt:
RA: CARACAL is a world-renowned name in the small-arms market. With over 15 years of experience, it has established itself as a pioneer in building high-precision weapons. What is the product range of CARACAL, and who are these small arms made for?
HA: CARACAL is a regional leader in the manufacture of high-performance small arms. We design, engineer and manufacture combat-proven firearms for the use of law enforcement, security and military forces. With over 15 years of industry experience, CARACAL offers an extensive portfolio of products in multiple configurations –all of which comply with the highest international standards, including NATO standards. Our products range from pistols and submachine guns to assault rifles and snipers. Our products are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure we deliver the very best to our clients – having been tried and tested in the harshest of environments.
Unlike some companies that solely focus on one type of small arm, CARACAL produces arms ranging from 9mm to 12.7mm calibre. The CAR 816 is recognised as our flagship product – comprising a gas-piston operated tactical rifle, chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO – with our main customers for this product located in the UAE. The CAR 816 is also the number one export product for us in the GCC region and across Asia. This weapon is currently being used by the South Korean Special Forces, as well as in Indonesia, and hopefully, soon in India.
All of our weapons – Enhanced F, CMP9 SMG, CAR 814, CAR 817AR, CAR 817 DMR, CSR 308, CSR 338, CSR 50 – as well as the CAR 816 are customised, and routinely undergo reliability, mud, sand and saltwater corrosion tests.
RA: Blending ergonomics and tactical requirements are the key components of CARACAL’s design and development. That apart, the company also provides support for the maintenance and repair of weapons systems. Therefore, can it be said, the company provides 360-degree solutions to its customers in the small arms segment? Please elaborate.
HA: At CARACAL, we meet all types of field requirements and incorporate ergonomics to ensure our end-users have a clear advantage in the field. Currently, our capabilities include design, development, manufacturing, and assembly – as well as the maintenance and repair of weapons systems. We also offer training packages for assembly, maintenance, and use – enabling customers to understand how to use our products effectively and leverage our capabilities to meet their specific requirements.
In a bid to increase output in the future, we are looking to build upon these offerings and expand our capabilities to include technical training, i.e. how to augment performance through the use of scopes and new gadgets such as laser equipment and smart devices. Our overall objective is to be the go-to small arms company that is renowned for its innovation and end-to-end solutions.
RA: CARACAL is in the process of signing the contract with the Indian Armed Forces, amid intense competition to manufacture and supply Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbines. How is CARACAL going to execute the order post-signing the contract? Will it include Make in India?
HA: CARACAL was shortlisted in 2017 by the Indian Ministry of Defence to supply 94,000 UAE-made CAR 816 rifles to the Indian Army. If the deal is signed, it will be the first time that the Indian Armed Forces uses a weapon manufactured in the UAE, and would subsequently support their arms modernisation drive. Winning such a bid will be a major accomplishment for CARACAL – as India is a crucial market for the company.
The first phase of the contract will involve the manufacturing of 94,000 carbines, while the second phase is set to see the Indian Army procure 360,000 carbines. The assault rifles were proposed to be manufactured in India with an Indian partner under the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Indian government. Since our two governments already enjoy strong synergies, this deal will open the door for many more potential partnerships within the Indian market.
RA: India’s small arms market is huge and very competitive, with many active players competing against one another. How different is your product from others in terms of design, technology and performance?
HA: CARACAL is well-known for its small arms and for building high-precision weapons. Combining accuracy and reliability, our reputation and credibility is the outcome of superior technical performance, exemplary product quality and unrestricted availability. Advanced technologies, including additive manufacturing and computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), are central to our design and prototyping processes. As a result, our products are continually enhanced and aligned with the evolving mission requirements of our customers.
The CARACAL CAR 816 is our trademark product, and one that is designed for the advanced requirements of law enforcement forces and military applications. A selective-fire weapon that can be discharged in semi-automatic mode, it is capable of firing up to 900 rounds per minute in the fully automatic mode. Thanks to its operating principle by advanced short-stroke pushrod gas-piston system, the CAR816 is distinguished by its superior performance and surpassing reliability even in climatic extremes and adverse conditions with relatively minimal cleaning and maintenance needs. The weapon is available in various barrel lengths (7.5”, 10.5”, 14.5” Carbine and 16”) with an effective range that can reach 550 metres.
RA: What is the export order book of CARACAL? Is there a future plan to enter into the manufacturing of any other arms and ammunition besides small arms?
HA: CARACAL is currently focused on small arms manufacturing. We are looking at a future where soldiers are equipped with small arms that are designed as the linchpins of combat forces protecting their assets on the front line. The ability to fire more rounds, and downrange with unerring accuracy, will be critical to ensure that our end-users are protected in any weather or terrain.
If there is a business need or opportunity to explore other arms and ammunition, we will pursue these as and when.
RA: CARACAL is now part of the Abu Dhabi based advanced technology group, EDGE. How is being part of this conglomerate going to help CARACAL expand into the international market?
HA: CARACAL is part of the Missiles & Weapons cluster within EDGE, an advanced technology group for defence and beyond – that has a mission of bringing innovative technologies and services to market with greater speed and efficiency. Being part of a group that consolidates over 25 entities provides us with an advantage in developing deeper and longer-term relationships with our partners and customers, and will enable us to service them more reliably, effectively and securely. The formation further enables us to accelerate and leverage what has already been established in the defence domain and tap into the expertise and capabilities of the other companies within EDGE Group.
Established in November 2019, EDGE aims to be a notable global player within the advanced technology and defence industry, and is extensively investing in cutting-edge R&D to be able to do so. It is a strategic partner for customers, vendors and countries, helping to secure nations with a wide spectrum of disruptive products and services at world-class standards. EDGE builds partnerships with markets all over the world, and values them according to three core categories:
- General vendors that sell EDGE products. These are valued transactional relationships.
- Commercial partners that also sell products, but go further, helping with IP to accelerate sovereign capabilities in key technology stacks.
- And strategic partners that sell products, transfer IP in vital technology stacks, and also buy products and services from EDGE.
RA: Final comment, if any?
HA: At CARACAL, we are proud to supply cutting-edge products that set the industry benchmarks for functional requirements and established specifications. The validation tests they undergo ensure the performance of our weapons in extreme climates, adverse conditions, and in the toughest handling situations – to protect those on the frontlines, where and when it matters the most.