Jet Airliner Allows KSA to Enter the Military Sector
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Saudi Arabia Enters the Military Sector via a Jet Airliner’s Gate



A military jet aircraft components to be built and produced in the KSA initially, signing multiple deals with military industry firms.

The kingdom has constructed and produced parts of a military jet aircraft for the first time.

Saudi Arabia announced during a defense expo in Riyadh, claiming to have inked multiple deals with businesses focusing on the military industry.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense, “sponsored the inauguration ceremony of the last advanced Hawk T-165 jet aircraft, the parts of which were assembled and manufactured in the Kingdom entirely by national hands,” according to a statement made by the ministry and carried by the official SPA news agency.

According to the release, “25 local companies participated in the manufacture of more than 3,114 parts inside and outside the jet aircraft.”

It explained that this is “an achievement that is the first of its kind in the field of assembling military jet aircraft in the Kingdom.”

On the X platform, the Minister of Defense stated, “I was glad to inaugurate the final advanced Hawk T-165 jet aircraft constructed in the Kingdom wholly by national hands, and to honour those who worked on it.”

Furthermore, he stated: “This achievement reflects the extension of the successes of the vision of the Crown Prince and Prime Minister in transferring and localising technology to the military industries sector.”


Ambitious Plan

Anticipations suggest that Saudi Arabia has lofty goals for the defense sector. Riyadh aims to produce at least half of the equipment required for military and security purposes at that time domestically under Vision 2030.

Officials are pressing for domestic component production and final assembly during the negotiation of large arms contracts to further this objective.

Riyadh has made significant structural changes to the government to supervise the expansion of its defense sector.

As a result, 2017 saw the founding of the General Authority for Military Industries to oversee the procurement, research, and development of weaponry, with a focus on indigenous sources.

The Saudi Military Industries business (SAMI) was founded in the same year. It is a state-owned defense business that specialises in missiles, defense electronics, and ground and aerial weaponry—all of which Saudi Arabia greatly needs.

In July 2022, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Saudi Arabia’s research, development, and innovation strategy.

In less than two decades, it seems likely that yearly expenditure on the industry would reach 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, adding 60 billion riyals ($16 billion) to the GDP in 2040 and aiding in the growth and diversification of the economy.

By the end of this decade, it appears that agreements to localise the arms sector would provide half of Saudi Arabia’s military acquisitions.


Contracts to Produce Components

In a similar development, Lockheed Martin, an American armaments company, said that it had inked deals with Saudi businesses to construct missile defense system components (THAAD).

Lockheed indicated that such contracts will improve production capacity and transfer expertise, so benefiting the Kingdom’s defense industry.

For its part, the Italian “Leonardo” group signed a memorandum of understanding with Riyadh to investigate and develop prospective investment and partnership prospects in the defense and space industries.

According to the defense group’s announcement, the memorandum of agreement includes a wide variety of areas, including space, helicopters, electronic systems, and sensors.

It noted that collaboration might expand to encompass air combat systems and system integration, given that the Italian state-controlled business is involved in next-generation technological efforts and enables experimental projects.

The MoU reinforces Leonardo’s ongoing operations in the lucrative Saudi market, where it has provided platforms, systems, technologies, and services for decades.


Second Edition

The Kingdom is hosting the World Defense Exhibition 2024 in Riyadh, which is the country’s General Authority for Military Industries’ second iteration of the event.

The exhibition witnesses the presence of more than 750 exhibitors, the participation of more than 75 countries, the attendance of more than 500 official delegations, as well as 100,000 domestic and international visitors.

After making its debut in 2022, the exhibition will return this year under the name “Equipped for Tomorrow.” It features the most recent advancements in the industry in a simulated version of the Emirates, which has been hosting events like the Unmanned Systems Exhibition (UMEX) and Simulation and Training (SemTEX).