DN - Defence Notes

Saudi Arabia unveils first indigenous armed drone ‘Saqr 1’

12th May 2017 - 08:05 GMT | by Ben Brook in London

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King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has unveiled a new strategic drone programme called Saqr 1 in Riyadh according to a Saudi Press Agency report 10 May.

KACST President Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed stated that the Saqr 1 is equipped with a Ka satellite communication system. It has a range of 2500km, can launch guided armaments from 550 – 6000m with a range of 10km. The UAV is equipped with thermal imaging and surveillance technology, and capable of an average altitude of 20,000ft with a flight time of 24 hours.

The National Aeronautical Technology Centre, a branch of the KACST, further specified that the Saqr 1 is equipped with a Rotax 914 (95hp) engine and has two hardpoints for a load of 250kg. It carries M-3/M-4/AR-1 air-to-ground missiles in addition to an FT-9 guided bomb. It is 9.2m in length with a wingspan of 18m. The UAV's maximum take-off weight is 1400kg.

The Saqr ('Falcon') UAV programme has four variants that are characterised by being lightweight and hard to detect. Initially produced for research purposes, they operate automatically through pre-flight programming, only requiring an engineer at ground control.

The Saqr 1 programme began six years ago. The Saqr 1A heralded the first generation of Saudi UAV pilots, and has progressed to the Saqr 1B. The third generation is in development and is due in 2018. The project is part of the National Transformation Program which stems from the Kingdom's Vision 2030 that looks to source national talent.

(Photo credit: Al Aribiya English)

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