The designer of China's Rainbow series unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) said the export of an assembly line for these UAVs to Saudi Arabia will enable mass production and expand the global market share of Chinese UAVs, especially in the Middle East region, media reports said late Monday.
An institute under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and designer of the Rainbow weapons-capable drones, said that such an assembly line will make an impact of the future of Chinese UAVs in military and civilian use, guancha.cn, a Chinese news website, reported on Monday.
According to wallstreetcn.com, Chinese and Saudi companies signed a deal during the International Defense Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi on the manufacturing of Rainbow series UAVs in February.
Experts said the cooperation will be beneficial to both countries.
The institute said the deal will boost technology transfer, and the drones' electronics and control systems will also mean a lot in related industries in the country purchasing the assembly lines.
But while the possibility is there, technology exports depend on the cooperation of the two governments, according to the institute.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Nigeria have all reportedly imported armed drones from China, according to a CNBC report on March 3.
Iraq and Pakistan have used them in combat by launching strikes at militants within their own borders.
“Arms sales and cooperation have great significance, and they reflect an enhanced level of bilateral political trust between China and Saudi Arabia,” Tian Yun, director of the China Society of Macroeconomics Research Center, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“The defense industry is an advanced and high value-added industry and could be an ideal choice for Saudi Arabia's long-term vision to reduce its reliance on the oil and gas industry,” Tian said.
“For China, which is attaching great importance to reduce its coal use, pressured by environmental reality, having more friends with oil and gas reserves is important,” noted Tian.
Saudi Arabia has purchased both of China's two exported drone series, the Wing Loong developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and the Rainbow series, according to media reports.
The CH-5, the latest unmanned combat air vehicle of the Rainbow series, can stay aloft for 60 hours and fly at an altitude of up to 10 kilometers.
It has a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers carrying normal payloads, and it is able to carry 16 air-to-surface missiles.