Saudi Arabia is in talks to acquire Turkey’s Bayraktar unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), according to a recent report by the geopolitical and market intelligence website Tactical Report.
“The Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has expressed interest in Turkish drones and is ready for talks with the producing company, Baykar,” the report stated.
The reports were alluded to in local media, including the daily Milliyet headlining, “Another candidate for Bayraktar”
“The number of countries that the TB2 drones have been exported to has reached 20,” the daily wrote on Monday.
Turkish unmanned combat drones gained international acclaim over their widespread use in several conflicts, including Syria, Libya, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and most recently in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion and on-going military operations there.
If reports are proven to be accurate, the kingdom would join several other countries in purchasing the drone, such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Qatar, Libya, Morocco and Poland.
Relations between Riyadh and Ankara have markedly warmed since the 2018 fallout from the state-sanctioned murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Late last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his first visit to the kingdom in a well-publicised meeting with de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and his father King Salman. According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the pair “reviewed the Saudi-Turkish relations and ways to develop them in all fields”.
It is expected that the two countries will cooperate closer in the region as high-level visits increase including in the field of defence. Ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Erdogan said: “We believe enhancing cooperation in areas including defence and finance is in our mutual interest.”
According to an opinion piece on Al Bawaba published on Monday, in light of these strengthened ties, “the sale of advanced weapons and UAVs, the development of cooperation in the defense industry, the training of the Saudi army, the equipping of Turkish-made weapons, especially the “Bayraktar” UAVs invested by Riyadh in the Turkish defense industry” will be mutually beneficial.