ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to acquire six medium-altitude, long-endurance drones developed by Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) and two ground controls stations, an official has disclosed.
Work toward a buy of the Anka system has been underway for some time. Gorkem Bilgi, manager of the corporate marketing and communications department at TAI said “the Saudi – Turkish negotiations have been ongoing since 2013 but no official contract has been signed yet.”
“The Saudis had some requirements regarding the reconnaissance issues and we are still negotiating this part of the agreement,” he added. The official also pointed out the ongoing negotiations between the two parties on the possibility of technology transfer to the Kingdom.
An industrial source close to the deal stressed some “budgetary and administrative problems due to low oil prices, which lead the Saudis to demand a reduction of the aircraft’s cost.” Bilgi on the other side stressed the openness of the company on this issue “especially because of the current ongoing situation.”
The Anka is TAI’s first indigenous design in aerospace. The Turkish Air Force currently operates four unmanned aircraft and is expected to receive an additional 10 in 2018. The Turkish Air Force and the Ministry of Interior are the main operators of the aircraft.
For his part, a military source added that “the United Arab Emirates has negotiated the acquirement of the aircraft, but the negotiations have not led to tangible results, especially since the UAE is locally developing its own unmanned systems.”
The Anka made its debut missionary flight last year in Turkey’s eastern province of Elazig. The drone reached an altitude of 19,000 feet and successfully carried out a four-hour exploration and observation flight.
A program of an armed version of the Anka was launched in 2013, in which TAI signed a contract with Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), for the design, development and production of a batch of 10 Anka-S systems.
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Chirine Mouchantaf contributed stories on Middle East defense and wrote for SDArabia, an Arabic security and defense magazine.