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How Israel’s HevenDrones latest hydrogen-powered drone can help UAE

The lightweight aerial vehicle for defense or commercial use is the latest fruit of diplomatic normalization between the two countries, and will be featured at IDEX next week.
Doosan Mobility Innovation's DS30W hydrogen fuel cell drone is displayed at CES 2022 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 6, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Israeli technology company HevenDrones announced that it will unveil its hydrogen-powered drone for defense and commercial use at the upcoming International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) next week in Abu Dhabi. 

The new H2D55 model is said to be five times more energy efficient than traditional lithium battery-powered drones, and fly for 100 minutes carrying seven kilograms, according to a press release on Tuesday. 

The company says the net-zero-emission lightweight drone does not need regular battery replacements, eliminating the environmental impact of mining lithium, and also reducing ownership costs for companies planning to use it at scale. 

It will premiere at the UAE capital’s IDEX, one of the Middle East and North Africa region’s few defense and security events, which starts Monday. It’s the first of three drones scheduled to be revealed over the next nine months, with each subsequent version having a higher payload and longer battery life, lasting in the air for 100 minutes. 

Seth Frantzman, the author of Drone Wars and writer for Defense News and the Jerusalem Post, said that drones with these capabilities are well suited for the UAE in homeland security, law enforcement, and other types of government services. “Drones can be really good for countering smuggling or piracy and also large-scale fires that are difficult to reach,” he said.

Frantzman told Al-Monitor that drones are already serving a useful purpose in Bahrain’s partnership with the US Navy, which the Israeli Defense ministry called the first regional partnership of its kind. An operation called Task Force 59 is using unmanned surface vessels in the Gulf, he said, to find smugglers or deal with Iranian threats.  

In early 2022, the UAE capital faced a series of drone strikes from Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis which killed three people. Later attacks were intercepted. 

The H2D55's defense configuration is designed to allow longer-lasting surveillance missions, and payloads carrying larger quantities of medical aid, food, and ammunition. Its commercial uses range from measuring soil nutrient levels for crops to delivering equipment during disasters. 

The UAE is well positioned to utilize its relationship with Israel in this field, Frantzman said. “The government is willing to experiment a lot. If they want to be the first country that does something like have drone deliveries of things, or build materials or medicine, it will do it,” he said. He reiterated the commonly shared idea that Israel is a start-up nation, while the UAE is a scale-up nation. 

“The UAE is a huge hub in terms of connecting Asia with Africa and the West, and also seeing what innovators in the UAE are thinking about with Israeli high tech,” said Frantzman. 

This will be the third time that Israeli companies will be participating at the global defense trade event in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to host over 1,350 exhibitors from more than 65 countries. 

The signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 normalized diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, allowing for free trade. Israel’s ties with the countries yielded $2.85 billion in 2022 according to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen early this year, in a Reuters report. 

In May of last year, the UAE signed a free trade agreement with Israel that would remove tariffs on 96% of goods, which is expected to boost bilateral trade by $10 billion within five years. 

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