Saudi Arabia and Airbus to produce civil and military helicopters in kingdom

Deal to see investment of 25 billion riyals over 20 years to build 100 aircraft

A military helicopter at the World Defence Show in Riyadh in March last year. Reuters
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Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with Airbus on Monday to produce civil and military helicopters in the kingdom, the first and largest project of its kind in the Middle East.

Saudi defence company Scopa Industries and Airbus will produce more than 100 helicopters in the kingdom, the company’s top official told state TV.

Fawaz Al Akeel, group chief executive for the defence and security sector of Scopa, said the investment would exceed 25 billion riyals ($6.6 billion) over 20 years.

The project would start next February at the World Defence Show in Riyadh, he said. It will provide more than 8,500 jobs.

The localisation of military industries will increase from 5 to 50 per cent by 2030 and exceed 95 billion riyals, the General Authority for Military Industries said in 2019.

The kingdom has spent 5.1 billion riyals on boosting its military sector in 2021 and 2022. It aims to localise 50 per cent of these opportunities by 2030, creating between 40,000 and 60,000 jobs.

Last year, Saudi Arabian Military Industries signed a helicopter technology agreement with Airbus Helicopter Arabia.

Sami chief executive Waleed Abukhalid said the agreement with Airbus would help support the group’s technology projects and create jobs in the kingdom.

The company also signed deals with Singapore-based ST Engineering in the fields of defence, technology and engineering.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defence opened applications for various military jobs for both men and women. New positions were created specifically for Saudi women.

All applicants need a bachelor’s degree and a diploma.

Men are also required to have an additional industrial secondary school diploma.

Saudi Vision 2030 introduced social reforms and required more jobs to be given to women in various fields.

As a result, more Saudi women are joining the Saudi Arabian Army, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, Royal Saudi Air Defence and Armed Forces Medical Services.

They hold posts including soldiers, lance corporals and sergeants.

Updated: June 19, 2023, 12:56 PM