“The market for drones in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very promising.”
Abdulsalam Ghamdi, Chief Business Officer & Board Member, INTRA Defense Technologies.
UAVs are predicted to be one of the most dynamic growth sectors in the coming years, specially defense UAS market. Saudi Arabia is betting on this industry, what are the forecasts of growth in your country?
Saudi Arabia seeks to empower the local military industries sector in the Kingdom to become a major tributary of its economy and a key contributor in providing job opportunities for Saudi youth, advancing development by enhancing non-oil revenues.
In addition to enhancing the Kingdom’s strategic independence in this sector consolidating the foundations of its national security and supporting its economic and social prosperity, the kingdom is aiming to create a competitive environment that facilitates the work of the UAS industry through the establishment of a regulatory body for military industries the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) company, the Saudi Arabian Military Industry (SAMI) company in 2017.
The Saudi UAS market is a promising market full of opportunities due to several factors, the most important of which is the Kingdom’s vision 2030. It is obvious to those who are familiar with the field of defense and security in the Kingdom of the colossal steps taken by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to localize these important defense technologies, which His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed to give priority to the localization of sensitive industries in the fields of defense, and his speech in which he said (No arms deal Without local content) it gives a strong impetus to national companies to participate resolutely in achieving the goals of the vision.
We believe at INTRA that the market for drones in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very promising, in both military and commercial sectors, as there are several other important commercial sectors such as tourism, environmental, industrial, Oil & Gas, etc.
INTRA Defense Technologies counts on a state-of-the-art R&D Centre, unique in the region. What are the main technologies you are working on and the technology challenges to focus on?
INTRA is focusing on three main technologies which are Unmanned Systems and Sub-systems, Electro-optical systems, and communication systems. Our Engineering & Development team is working in the design, development, and testing of operational and tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems that providing Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Reconnaissance missions. Other unmanned systems which INTRA is providing to the local commercial and industrial sector as low cost, reliable, saving time solutions, include Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Unmanned Sea Vehicles, and Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles by teaming with international technology partners to transfer and localize Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Data Processing technologies embedded in those systems. INTRA has a track record in performing technical studies to integrate different aerial and ground sub-systems that include payloads, and sensors that include EO/IR cameras, radar systems, satellite communications systems, and weapon systems. INTRA is also providing a highly mobile and modular Ground Segment and communication System to store and transport Unmanned Aerial systems and Ground Support Equipment and provide encrypted high-speed Command and Control to the Unmanned Aerial System.
How will be the UAS solutions for the defense industry in the short term?
We believe that UAS solutions are the future of the defense industry due to the increase in demand for ISR, weaponized ISR Services and training. More and more applications in the defense sector is changing to be unmanned services due to the risk involved when having traditional operations that include human beings and the cost of unmanned systems is usually less than the traditional ones. For that reason, we strongly believe that Saudi Arabia has a promising market in the field of UAS. INTRA will play a role in localizing 50% of the Kingdom’s total government military spending, especially in the UAS sector.
Despite of COVID-19 pandemic, the defense sector is remaining stable in 2021. How does it affect to Intras ongoing UAS projects?
During the early phase of pandemic, there were uncertainty like any other companies however with the virtuous level of planning and team support, INTRA subsisted the pandemic and continued the business as usual.
INTRA was on a very high level of readiness and our plans and goals were not affected, due to the emergency plan prepared by the company to face the impact of the pandemic so there was no impact to research, development, operation, and training.
Training, partnership, and technology transfer are demanded on UAS industry. What are Intras main core strengths in UAS design and manufacturing?
Since its establishment, INTRA has built technical capabilities and competent teams with very advanced skills working on the highest international standards to design, develop, and operate different Unmanned Systems.
INTRA has invested heavily in development of different UAS and Payloads, including the development of the first local VTOL UAS “ASEF” that has been announced in Dubai Airshow 2019, the INTRA’s VTOL will be fully operational this year.
INTRA has established the first UAS manufacturing facility in KSA with the highest international standards to meet the increasing demand for UAS systems, the factory area is estimated at more than 6000 square meters, it will be used to manufacture, assembly and test of different UAS. INTRA has also established Development and MRO center in Riyadh for the UAS subsystems such as Electro-Optics and other systems.