The drone is able to fly at an average altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of up to 30 hours, automatic take-off and landing, a parachute in case of emergencies, and day and night cameras.
It can also be equipped with radar, technology for electronic warfare, jamming and eavesdropping, and bombs and rockets with a payload of up to 400 kg.
The director of the drone project, Dr. Khaled Al-Hossan, said Saqr 1 is in line with Vision 2030, which aims to increase local technical content.
“The techniques used in this drone make it one of the top international drones,” he told Arab News.
“It’s characterized by the ability to fly high or low, and to carry laser-guided rockets and bombs.”
The drone is made of carbon and glass fiber, with a light weight and low fuel consumption, Al-Hossan added.
“This drone can complete its tasks independently from take-off to landing, and is controlled from a ground station with high precision and stability in navigation in all aviation conditions,” he said, adding that it has been thoroughly tested.
Work on the drone began in 2000, and four types were produced in different sizes: Saqr 1, 2, 3 and 4, Al-Hossan said.
The production factory is Saudi-owned via the Taqnia Aeronautics Co., which is owned by the Public Investment Fund.
“The factory has a plan from 2019 to 2024 for the design and manufacture of aircraft spare parts. All necessary equipment has been purchased and is now installed,” said Mounir Bakhash, director of the factory.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Ayyash, director of the aircraft transport department at the Taqnia Aeronautics Co., said the Saudi-Ukrainian Antonov AN-132 aircraft is ready for manufacture and sale.
“The structure of the aircraft is designed by a Saudi-Ukrainian partnership,” he told Arab News.
“The aircraft devices are American, British, French and Canadian, but Saudi Arabia plans to manufacture the tires.”
The idea for the plane came out of a partnership between KACST and Ukraine’s Antonov State Co., Ayyash said. “The production line begins in Ukraine and ends in the Kingdom,” he added.
The Antonov AN-132 can be used for various purposes, including electronic warfare, reconnaissance, and transporting personnel and equipment. Before the Dubai Airshow 2017, the aircraft participated in the Paris Air Show 2017.
“Several countries have expressed interest in the plane, such as Turkey, which requested information to negotiate the purchase of nine Antonovs, as well as Malaysia, Peru, Mexico and the UAE,” Ayyash said.