The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) unveiled its first armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – the Saqr 1 – on May 11.
The Saudi Press Agency reports that the Saqr 1 is equipped with a Ka-band satellite communications (SATCOM) system with a range of 2,500 km, average altitude of 20,000 ft and endurance of 24 hours. It can deploy laser-guided air-to-ground missiles (AGM) and bombs with ranges of up to 10 km.
Shephard Media states that the Saqr 1 is powered by a Rotax 914 engine and has a payload of 250 kg with two hardpoints, which are compatible with AR-1 AGM and FT-9 guided bombs. The UAV has a maximum take-off weight of 1,400 kg.
KACST added that second and third-generation variants of the Saqr 1 – i.e. Saqr 1B and 1C – are currently in use or under development, respectively.
Analysts (e.g. IHS Jane’s) have noted that the Saqr 1 does not bear any decisive resemblances to known China Aerospace Science Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-series drones. In March, KACST and CASC signed an agreement to co-produce UAVs. In fact, KACST’s statements indicate that development of the Saqr UAV platform predates those agreements by up to four years.