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Saudi Arabia announces UAV procurement

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) announced on 27 April that the country was procuring six unmanned systems from local firm Intra Defence Technologies for delivery in 2021, and a further 40 systems within five years.

The type of UAV was not disclosed in the Tweet from the organisation’s official account, but Intra advertises the Karayel tactical UAV, developed by Turkey’s Vestel, and the Asef VTOL UAV, which was launched at the Dubai Airshow in 2019. Jane’s notes that a Karayel was lost over Yemen’s Al-Hudaydah in late December after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile near the port of Al-Salif.

The Karayel UAV on display at the 2019 Dubai Airshow. (Jane’s/Charles Forrester)

The Karayel UAV on display at the 2019 Dubai Airshow. (Jane’s/Charles Forrester)

The Karayel has an endurance of 20 hours at 18,000 ft (5,486 m) and a cruise speed of 60–80 kt. Maximum payloads for the platform are 70 kg under the fuselage and 60 kg per wing across a total of four hardpoints. The platform’s datalink range is 200 km from the GCS. The platform shown at the Dubai Airshow was armed with Roketsan MAM-L and MAM-C munitions.

The platform was also shown with a Hensoldt Argos II EO/IR pod to provide day-and-night surveillance capabilities. Intra signed an agreement with Hensoldt South Africa’s Optronics division to develop an electro-optical payload for UAVs in Saudi Arabia ahead of the 2019 Dubai Airshow as part of efforts to improve self-sufficiency in the unmanned aerial vehicle domain.

Intra representatives told Jane’s at the Dubai Airshow last year that the company was primarily orienting its marketing efforts for the Karayel towards the Saudi military, and potentially exporting the platform to Brazil and Kuwait.

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