The ongoing arms race between Saudi Arabia and its Middle Eastern counterparts is anticipated to fuel the nation’s arms imports, according to a report by Strategic Defence Intelligence (SDI).
Titled ‘Future of the Saudi Arabia Defense Industry – Market Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2022’, the report offers insights into the Saudi Arabian defence industry.
Saudi Arabia emerged as the world’s biggest importer of military hardware in 2014. The nation imported fighter jets and transport aircraft, as well as missiles, armoured vehicles, sensors, artillery, engines, and air defence systems from foreign suppliers during 2012-2016.
The report has found that the country intends to acquire fighters and multi-role aircraft, border security, infantry fighting vehicles, main battle tanks, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It also expects to invest in cyber security, submarines, computer network defence capabilities, and naval vessels in the next five years, the report has announced.
Despite the efforts to boost its indigenous military capabilities, the limited abilities of Saudi defence manufacturing lead to reliance on foreign suppliers for high-technology military equipment and systems.
Saudi Arabia permits foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to enter its defence industry through joint ventures and cooperative agreements. However, the embargo on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence industry coupled with corruption and lack of skilled labour obstruct the foreign OEMs to conquer the market.