Saudi companies co-producing Turkish drones

Saudi Arabian manufacturers Intra Defense Technologies and the Advanced Electronics Company have started to co-produce a Turkish-made drone, Burak Bekdil, an analyst and journalist, said in an article for news website Defense News on Monday.

The Saudi companies are manufacturing the medium-altitude long-range aircraft Karayel-SU under licence from Turkey’s Vestel Defence, Bekdil said.

The Turkish firm will supply essential and critical components while AEC is to provide electronics parts, he said, citing a Vestel official who asked to remain anonymous.

The Karayel-SU drone, developed by Vestel, which is also one of Turkey’s biggest home appliance companies, first appeared at a Dubai air show in 2017.

The aircraft has a 13-metre wingspan and can fly for up to eight hours when fully armed with its 120 kg payload. It may be equipped with the smart micro munitions MAM-C and MAM-L, both produced by Turkey’s Roketsan, Bekdil said.

Vestel signed a memorandum with AEC for “collaboration and localisation” in 2017, Defense News reported at the time.

The Saudi company is also negotiating for a so-called off-the-shelf purchase of the drone, Bekdil cited the Vestel official as saying.

Co-production will involve the manufacturing of 40 drones between 2021 and 2025, and the drones will be renamed as Haboob in the kingdom, he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke about Saudi Arabia’s demand for Turkish-developed drones at a press conference last week, saying that the country taking part in joint aerial drills with the Greek military represented a contradiction.