ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia will manufacture aircraft within two years after the kingdom signed a deal with Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov on Wednesday.
Taqnia Aeronautics Co., a subsidiary of Saudi development and investment company Taqnia, signed an agreement to develop and manufacture the Antonov-32 light cargo plane in Saudi Arabia.
The agreement, signed by Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Saud, chairman of Taqnia Aeronautics and president of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and Dmytro Kiva, president of Antonov, will see a transfer of aviation industry technology to the kingdom and training by Ukrainian experts.
According to Al-Saud, the evolved Antonov-32 will have an extended range and is designed for military and civilian operations.
"Its range will be doubled or more and the kingdom will participate in developing new specifications for the aircraft to co-own this technology with the Antonov company," he said.
"The new Saudi-Ukrainian aircraft will be designed with Western engines from Canada, navigation systems from American company Honeywell, as well as other parts that will be acquired from the UK," he added
The new joint venture will also be limited to Saudi and Ukrainian nationals, a boost to local ambitions and Ukrainian employment needs.
"This is an important agreement for Ukraine and beneficial for Saudi Arabia as it brings the kingdom in to the aviation development and manufacturing industry," Kiva said.
Production will begin within two years, according to a joint statement released by Taqnia and Antonov.
Saudi interest in Antonov goes back to 2013 when Al-Saud visited the company and reviewed their facilities. A Gulf source said contract negotiations commenced seven months ago between the two countries.
"An initial payment of US $150 million was made and the initial plan is to produce eight aircraft," the source told Defense News.
The agreement notes that the aircraft will be built and designed to improve the aircraft's payload, range and takeoff.
The deal also will include full development of the cockpit with sophisticated American-made navigation devices, which will enable the crew to do more difficult tasks, in addition to other features that will greatly increase the aircraft's capability.
The new model will be named Antonov-132 and Saudi Arabia will own the intellectual property and engineering designs for the aircraft.
According to the joint statement, the Antonov-32 was selected after studying Saudi needs and the international market for light transport aircraft in the military and civil sectors.