Saudi general lauds tie-up with Ukraine for jet manufacture
Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov and Saudi Arabia has produced an electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft
“A Saudi plane with Ukrainian partnership would contribute to the development of the military doctrine of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia,” according to Retd. Major General Mohammed Alqbeban.
He said that the production of such an aircraft it would also advance the evolution of the future of Saudi Arabia strategically and economically.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov and Saudi Arabia has produced an electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft, based on the An-132 light multi-mission transport aircraft. According to its designers, the aircraft is capable of countering air defense systems as well as manned and unmanned aircraft.
The aircraft will be available in Saudi Arabia as of April 2017, according to the newspaper.
Alqbeban pointed out in his interview with Al Arabiya that the Defense Ministry, headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, has made considerable progress, leading to the setting up of many manufacturing ventures, leveraging the expertise of the Department of Defense and its relations with the East and the West.
Alqbeban maintained that the aircraft industry is not an easy sector to enter, even for European countries. The aircraft industry is not a single country task, due to the high cost and the lack of technology in one state, he claimed, adding: “The Tornado aircraft is manufactured by Britain with an Italian-German partnership, and Rafale aircraft is fabricated by France with the participation of other countries. Therefore, a Saudi-Ukrainian partnership must be seen as part of these industrial alliances.”
A strategic view
The retired Major General explained that Saudi Arabia had a pioneering vision when approaching the East and partnering with Ukraine, adding: “Ukraine is a friendly country and has strong ties with Saudi Arabia. It is a promising country with high processing capabilities, but because of its economy, and the difficulty to begin manufacturing on its own, it was not able to industrialize. Nevertheless, Ukraine has a desire for partnership and to open up to the Middle East, and most of all, the desire for transfer of technology. It was something of a challenge when dealing with Western countries.”
Alqbeban disclosed that the partnership falls within the diversification strategy of military industries which is better than relying on the West, since it will contribute to the development of the Saudi military doctrine.
He pointed out that the military doctrine, which means ‘How we fight’ is often associated with the weapons we use, and what we use are Eastern weapons so our military creed will be close to them.
Consequently, Saudi Arabia heading in the direction of the East will be useful for the development of the military doctrine and lack of commitment to any one bloc in particular which could help the enemies.
*This article also appears on AlArabiya.net.