ANKARA, Turkey — Two Saudi Arabian manufacturers have started co-producing a Turkish-made medium-altitude, long-endurance drone.
Intra Defense Technologies and Advanced Electronics Company will produce the Karayel-SU under license from the Vestel Savunma.
Vestel Savunma did not respond to a request for comment, but a company official told Defense News on condition of anonymity that AEC will provide electronics parts and Vestal will supply “essential, critical components of the aircraft.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed March 16 that “there was Saudi demand for Turkish armed drones,” without elaborating.
The Vestel official said that in addition to the co-production deal, Saudi Arabia is also negotiating for the off-the-shelf purchase of an unknown batch of Karayel-SU drones.
The deal dates back to the 2017 Dubai Air Show, where Saudi Arabia expressed interest in contracts for both the direct purchase and co-production of the drones, Turkish defense analyst Anil Sahin told Sputnik News.
Sahin said the co-production program involves building a batch of 40 Karayel-SU aircraft between 2021 and 2025. The Turkish drone will be reflagged as Haboob in Saudi Arabia.
When unloaded, the Karayel-SU can fly up to 20 hours at an altitude of 18,000 feet; or for eight hours with a 120-kilogram payload. It can fly at a speed of 60-80 knots at a ranger of up to 150 kilometers.
The drone features a 97-horsepower engine. It uses two rocket systems and is equipped with the smart micro munitions MAM-C and MAM-L. Those weapons are both produced by Turkey’s state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.