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Saudi Arabia will license-produce Chinese armed drones
June 23, 2017
An Iraqi CH-4 UAV armed with AR-1 air-to-ground missiles. Photo credit: Iraqi Ministry of Defence

Saudi Arabia will license-produce Chinese armed drones

The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and China Aerospace Science Technology Corporation (CASC) signed an agreement to manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Saudi Arabia, IHS Jane’s reports.

Specific details of this agreement are not available.

During the 2017 International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which took place in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in February, Taqnia Aeronautics Company had signed an agreement with China Aerospace Long-March International (ALIT) to manufacture CH-series UAVs in Saudi Arabia.

Notes & Comments:

It is not clear if the two agreements are related, but Taqnia and KACST have collaborated on scientific and technological projects for Saudi use. This extending to CH-series drones is plausible.

Considering CASC and ALIT produce and market the CH-series, respectively, it is unclear if the sale large UAV sale announced by Chinese media in February involves the Wing Loong II, as observers had previously believed. The ‘largest order’ appears to have gone to CASC (from Saudi Arabia).

While both are Chinese, CASC and CAIG are competitors in the armed UAV space.

The CASC CH-4B and CAIG Wing Loong II have similar specifications, especially in terms of payload and endurance (Wing Loong II: 400 kg and 32 hours vs. CH-4B: 345 kg and 40 hours). Both UAV platforms can deploy China’s range of air-to-surface munitions, such as the AR-1 laser-guided missile.

Saudi Arabia is a confirmed CH-4B operator and apparent Wing Loong user. While one cannot dismiss the possibility of acquiring both the CH-4B and Wing Loong II in large numbers, the licensed manufacturing aspect of the CASC/ALIT deal indicates that most of these drones will be of the CH-series.

 

 

  • Khan

    News reported that 300 Wing Loong II UAVs would be sold to S.Arabia as a launch customer, expected to equip with new EO payload, SAR radar and HJ-10 air to surface missiles.

  • TS0101

    Admin, can these drones target the mobile object as well or only the static?

    • They can engage mobile targets using laser-guided missiles (AR-1) via laser-designator (from the drone or another source).

  • Noman Anis

    How could we compare these Chinese drones with US Predators Drones? Could Pakistan use these drones as an alternative US drones?

  • Steve

    One wonders why they cannot use Predator/Avenger as other Middle East countries do. What’s the added advantage to them of assembling Chinese when they are only going to fight limited wars with rag tag militias like the Yemen (mis)adventure. For Pakistan it’s a good option as Afghanistan may be unstable for a while, and we have the LOC/IB/Durand line to patrol for the foreseeable future, but SA? Not so sure.

    • Paul Baggio

      Armed drone sales are FORBIDS by US Congress to Muslim countries. Even cash-rich UAE only operated unarmed Predator.

      • DB100-SM2

        They did not even sell these systems to NATO member Turkey. Turkey had to develop its own family of Armed UAV’s like the TAI ANKA and Bayraktar TB-2.

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