• Chinese-made UAV

Chinese-made UAV (Photo : Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has agreed to build unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for China after the signing of a partnership agreement on March 16 between Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), IHS Jane's Defense Weekly reported.

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The agreement to build drones for China was one of the several pacts announced during King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud's visit China, which was aimed at improving the strategic relationship between the two countries, KACST said.

Ali Mohammed al-Ghamdi, the CEO of the Taqnia Aeronautics Company, a subsidiary of the Saudi technology development organization Taqnia, had previously tweeted that an agreement to build CH family of UAVs in Saudi Arabia has been signed, with China Aerospace Long-March International (ALIT).

Al-Ghamdi said that the Saudi-made UAVs will be used for both civilian and military purposes and will be promoted and sold in other countries in the Middle East.

 ALIT leads the promotion of Chinese UAVs and other products made by CASC, such as the CH series of UAVs, to foreign customers, according to the report.

Saudi Arabia confirmed that it is already using Chinese UAVs during the induction ceremony for the Royal Saudi Air Force's (RSAF) new F-15SA multirole fighters in February.

During the event, a photograph of a sophisticated version of the CASC CH-4 medium-altitude long-endurance UAV appeared. The UAV looked better than the one displayed by the Iraqi military, which has a bulge on its nose, where a satellite communications antenna can be placed. It also has AR-1 laser-guided missiles and FT-9 guided bombs.

Both CASC products are used in Iraq's CH-4s.

The larger CH-5 was unveiled by CASC during Airshow China in November last year. According to the company's promotional information, the CH-5 has a maximum take-off weight of 2,600 kilograms and a 900-kilogram payload. It can fly for 30 hours when it is not carrying any weapon, the report said.