Saudi aviation companies join forces to boost Kingdom’s defense capabilities

:: Several Saudi aviation companies have formed an alliance to manufacture airplanes in the Kingdom. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow on Monday morning.

The initiative was launched by TAQNIA Aeronautics, a subsidiary of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Co. (TAQNIA), and fits with the aims of Vision 2030 to nationalize the aviation industry and raise domestic industrial output by 50 percent.

The memorandum was signed by the CEOs of TAQNIA Aeronautics, TAQNIA Defense and Security Technologies, Middle East propulsion Co., the Al-Salam Aerospace Industries, the Advanced Electronics Co., the Advanced Arabian Simulation Co., the Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries, the Aircraft Accessories and Components Co., and the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Co.

The memorandum signals the alliance’s intent to establish three production lines for airplanes in the Kingdom to manufacture, test, supply and maintain three types of aircraft: The Ukrainian Antonov AN-132, the multipurpose American Black Hawk helicopter and drones.

The agreement includes manufacturing airframes and installing and testing high-tech defense technology.

The CEO of TAQNIA Aeronautics, Ali bin Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, a retired major general, said the alliance was open to all qualified Saudi companies in the aviation industry, in a bid to achieve integration, not to create competition, and in order to ensure high profits in the medium to long term.

Abdullah Al-Omary, CEO of the Middle East Propulsion Co., said it is the only company in the Kingdom that maintains and manufactures military aircraft engines. He added that his company has served the Saudi Royal Air Force for over 16 years, and “Saudi Arabia owns 82 percent of the company.”

Hamad Al-Yousefi, CEO of TAQNIA Defense and Security Technologies, said that his company looks forward to cooperating with TAQNIA Aeronautics on the alliance’s projects.

Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries CEO Ali bin Abdullah Al-Ashban said that the agreement will include the limited manufacturing of spare parts for air-defense aircraft and other aircraft used to support military operations “in order to nationalize this industry and accommodate the increasing demand for it.”

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