An airshow at the 2017 International Defense Exhibition and Conference, or IDEX, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

An airshow at the 2017 International Defense Exhibition and Conference, or IDEX, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. AP / Jon Gambrel

Israelis join IDEX; Drones, hotter than ever; Latest M&A deal, and more...

An arms show like no other, the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi attracts exhibitors and delegations from all over the world — including accused war criminals and countries that don't necessarily get along with one another.

This year’s edition kicks off next week. And while the pandemic has dampened expectations for  the official U.S. delegation, a sizable number of companies are still expected to show up, including, for the first time, Israeli firms — more than three dozen of them. It’s the latest example of the strengthening of ties between UAE and Israel following last year’s Abraham Accords peace deal. 

"We are honored and proud to participate in this defence exhibition, as we usher in a new era in the relations between our nations,” Yoav Har-Even, president and CEO of Israeli defense firm Rafael, said in an emailed statement.

What to watch for: The show could reveal international perspectives on the Biden administration’s review of arms-export policy. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners wrote in a Feb. 7 note to investors that the show “could generate news and perspective on how countries in the region see these [export] policy changes and, as well, how other international competitors are sizing up the market.”

Drone market still hot: The Virginia-based Teal Group consulting firm predicts worldwide military and civil drone production will rise from last year’s $10.6 billion to $32.4 billion in 2029. It also expects a total of  $203 billion to be spent on drones over the decade.

Cubic getting sold: The mergers and acquisitions market remains hot. This week’s case in point: private equity firms Veritas and Evergreen entered an agreement to buy Cubic, a public transportation and military training and simulation company, for $2.8 billion. 

Hondo’s back. James Geurts, who led Navy acquisition during the Trump administration, is back in the Pentagon and filling in as Navy undersecretary. Could Will Roper be next?

Lastly, Ellen Lord, the former Textron System CEO who became defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment during the Trump administration, has joined the Chertoff Group as senior advisor.

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