Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems (ACES) has signed an agreement with a Chinese defense firm to design and manufacture military drones in the kingdom.
The joint venture, called “Aerial Solutions,” was announced during the World Defense Show 2022, held from March 6 to 9 in Riyadh.
As part of the agreement, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation will establish a research and development center in Saudi Arabia focusing on unmanned aerial systems.
The firm will create a team to manufacture various drones, communication systems, flight-control systems, cameras, radars, and wireless detection systems.
The venture will also explore the development of all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, anti-drone solutions, and helicopter spare parts.
This is not the first time China and Saudi Arabia have collaborated on a defense project. In 2017, China Aerospace Science and Technology signed a partnership with a Saudi company to build a manufacturing facility in the kingdom for the CH drone series.
During the World Defense Show 2022, the Saudi Arabian defense ministry announced 23 deals worth 13 billion Saudi riyals ($3.46 billion) with local and international defense companies.
The country has partnered with Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) in providing advanced communication systems, armored vehicles, ammunition, and maritime systems to the country’s armed forces.
A contract for one billion Saudi riyals ($266.5 million) was also signed with Military Industries Corporation to acquire defense systems, technical support, and necessary training for the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Abu Dhabi-based Nimr has also partnered with SAMI to transfer crucial technology for manufacturing JAIS 4×4 military vehicles in the kingdom.
“With this manufacturing license agreement, we at Sami are taking a huge step towards our mission to develop world-class defence technologies and systems within Saudi Arabia, in line with the Vision 2030 objective to localize 50 percent of the kingdom’s military spending,” SAMI chief executive Walid Abukhaled told The National.