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Saudi Arabia continues with its efforts to reinforce its UAV fleet. After the contract with the Chinese firm Chengdu for Pterodactyl drones in September 2016 and a more recent agreement to set up the first factory for Chinese hunter-killer aerial drones in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is now turning to Turkey. Saudi Arabia is planning to acquire six medium-altitude, long-endurance drones developed by Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) and two ground control stations, as an official has disclosed.
The Anka is TAI’s first indigenous design in aerospace. The Turkish Air Force currently operates four unmanned aircraft and is expected to receive an additional 10 in 2018. The Turkish Air Force and the Ministry of Interior are the main operators of the aircraft.
For his part, a military source added that “the United Arab Emirates has negotiated the acquirement of the aircraft, but the negotiations have not led to tangible results, especially since the UAE is locally developing its own unmanned systems.”
The Anka made its debut missionary flight last year in Turkey’s eastern province of Elazig. The drone reached an altitude of 19,000 feet and successfully carried out a four-hour exploration and observation flight, according to defensenews.com.
Work toward a buy of the Anka system has been underway for some time. Gorkem Bilgi, manager of the corporate marketing and communications department at TAI said “the Saudi – Turkish negotiations have been ongoing since 2013 but no official contract has been signed yet.” “The Saudis had some requirements regarding the reconnaissance issues and we are still negotiating this part of the agreement,” he added. The official also pointed out the ongoing negotiations between the two parties on the possibility of technology transfer to the Kingdom.
A program of an armed version of the Anka was launched in 2013, in which TAI signed a contract with Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), for the design, development and production of a batch of 10 Anka-S systems.