The Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) announced on Sunday, August 7, that the country had inked a strategic deal with Turkish defense company Baykar Tech to localize drone production there. Through the arrangement, the Kingdom will be better able to produce mechanical components, aircraft structures, and electronic systems and perform aviation testing.
The agreement supports the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of domesticating more than 50% of the country’s military spending, according to Khalid bin Hussein Al-Bayari, Saudi Arabia’s associate minister of defense for executive affairs. Khalid also emphasized the potential for these agreements to promote growth via knowledge transfer, adopting new technologies, and Saudi professional training.
In this article, we’ll highlight Saudi’s plans for local drone manufacturing with Turkey’s Baykar tech. Continue reading to learn how the Kingdom hopes to enrich its tech capabilities through the Saudi-Turkey partnership.
The Saudi-Turkey partnership: What the deal means for both sides
The collaboration, led by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence Khalid Al-Saud, will primarily focus on localizing drone manufacturing and related technologies in the Kingdom. On Sunday, SAMI published a message on the messaging service X, formerly known as Twitter.
Tensions between Ankara and Riyadh have been high since Ankara supported pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa and since 2018 due to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul at the Saudi Consulate. Ankara started a push in 2021 to mend diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and its neighbor in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates.
Furthermore, besides the local drone manufacturing deal, other major economic projects between the two nations have been announced more recently. For instance, in June, the state-owned Saudi oil corporation Aramco met with Turkish contractors to explore future projects in the country that may be worth $50 billion.
According to SAMI, the new drone agreement will boost Saudi Arabia’s defenses and strengthen the country’s capacity for producing weapons in line with the Vision 2030 project. Bakyar drones are becoming increasingly common and used in wars ranging from Libya to Ukraine.
Overall, by signing MoUs with Turkish companies Aselsan and Roketsan, Saudi Arabia’s National Co. for Mechanical Systems reaffirmed its commitment to localizing the manufacturing of drone system sensors and ammunition. The MoUs and the localization agreement, according to Khaled Al-Bayari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs in Saudi Arabia, represent the coordinated efforts of the ministry and assisting agencies, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-Turkey partnership will have different impacts on both sides. The collaboration’s goals include enhancing defense self-reliance and taking advantage of the expanding Saudi-Turkish strategic alliance in the area. For Turkey, this agreement comprises a broader market for their signature military aircraft (UCAVs), hard currency, and yet another geopolitical link to a significant investor and regional power.