“More than 70 percent of military equipment can be produced locally,” said Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation.
In a statement after presiding over a meeting of the central committee for local manufacturing, Prince Khaled said a special department would be established for local manufacturing and the transfer of technology at the armed forces. He said the committee would report directly to the minister of defense and aviation.
He emphasized the government’s plan to provide greater investment opportunities for the private sector in the military manufacturing sector. “We have set out certain regulations to make sure the equipment and spare parts produced in the Kingdom are equal in quality to imported products,” he said.
Prince Khaled also stressed that locally produced military equipment should be made available at prices lower than outside the country.
He said competition between private companies should be based on equality and justice. There are a number of military industries in Alkharj near Riyadh that are run by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation.
BAE Systems announced recently its intention to establish a military aircraft assembling plant in Saudi Arabia.
“We have started training Saudis on Typhoon aircraft assembling at our plant in Warton to establish an assembly plant in the Kingdom shortly,” said Guy Griffiths, managing director international and a member of the company’s executive council.
He said BAE Systems had established large-scale projects to train Saudi manpower in defense-related industries.
Griffiths said about 58 percent of the company’s 5,000 employees are Saudi.
Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to purchase 72 Typhoon Eurofighters in September 2007. The purchase, for which BAE Systems is prime contractor, is likely to be valued up to $40 billion. The deal calls for most of the aircraft to be assembled in the Kingdom.
In March 2008, the foundation stone was laid for a new center at King Abdulaziz Air Base in the Eastern Province to upgrade and assemble military aircraft systems. The complex will include a range of hangars, stores for hazardous materials, workshops, fuel storage, a water desalination plant and a power station.