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Update: Saudi Arabia signs for Akinci UAVs in record deal with Turkey

The Akıncı will be operated by both the Saudi air force and navy. (Janes/Akshara Parakala)

Saudi Arabia has ordered the Baykar Bayraktar Akıncı armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of a record-breaking defence procurement deal with Turkey, it was announced on 18 July during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the kingdom.

The Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman announced that two UAV acquisition contracts were signed with Baykar to bolster Saudi military and defence manufacturing capabilities. He said he also signed military and defence co-operation agreements with Turkish Minister of National Defense Yaşar Güler.

While Prince Khalid did not identify the UAVs that have been ordered, Baykar Tech said they are Akıncıs, with CEO Haluk Bayraktar describing the deal as “the biggest defence and aviation export contract in the history of the Republic of Turkey”, without saying how much it is worth.

Turkey's previous largest defence export contract was reportedly Pakistan's 2018 order for four Ada-class corvettes worth an estimated USD1–1.5 billion.

In its statement, Baykar said the UAVs would be delivered to the Saudi air and naval commands and that it would provide training, technical support, and logistics services. It did not provide a timeline.

“With the comprehensive agreement, co-operation will be made on technology transfer and joint production in order to advance the high technology development capability of the two countries,” it added.

The Akıncı entered service with Turkish Air Force Command in 2021 and has been exported to Pakistan and possibly Libya. Baykar announced in June 2022 that the aircraft had set a new Turkish altitude record by flying at 41,118 ft (13,716 m).

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