Defense technology a top priority for Kingdom


Saudi Gazette

— Technology is one of the Kingdom’s top priorities for development in all sectors, including the defense sector. There is also a great tendency from the Kingdom to transfer the most advanced technology into the Kingdom. In this regard, Saudi Gazette has interviewed John Bottimore, Vice President, International Business Development BAE Systems Inc (US business of BAE Systems) in AFED exhibition in Riyadh to talk more about the process of transferring the technology in defense to the Kingdom and the future plans for the BAE Systems Saudi America in the Kingdom.

“BAE System Saudi-America is the name of our US entity in the Kingdom. We repreresent the US business here. We focus on bringing key US capabilities in land, maritime, and air to the Kingdom,” Bottimore said.

Speaking of the mechanism of bringing defense technology into the Kingdom, he clarified: “Firstly, the Saudi requirements for technology must be clear to us, which types of technology are the most important to bring in and which types of technology the Saudi government will fund versus develop itself.”

“From my observation, I noticed that the Kingdom wants to invest and adopt new technologies from all across the domain: in the air, land and sea whether it is the technology for the platform itself such as: airplanes, helicopters,and ships or advanced technologies for platform systems such as: communications or electronic warfare and sensors.”

Training Saudis is a big part of this process. The know-how to translate that technology into a production or sustainment of a product in service for many years is important. “For lots of the systems for instance, maybe 30% of the cost of the system is in the acquisition of the original technology and the equipment while 70% is in the sustainment of the equipment over 20-30-40 years,”’ he emphasized.

BAE Systems is currently having a number of discussions going on with a variety of potential Saudi partners, “ our agreements are in different phases right now. Primarily in the defense land side for combat vehicles. We are also in discussions with some of the companies that are participating in the exhibition on the aircraft systems side. When we end up signing contracts then we will finalize our agreements and get to the details of technology transfer whatever the contract calls for. We are going to be engaged with the transfer of technology at the beginning, then in the training of that technology, and the training for production and sustainment of the equipment over its life. This will not happen only on the top level, we are talking to many layers of supply chain companies varying from large to small.”

“The investment the Kingdom is making and the establishment of companies like SAMI and others show that there is a real commitment to the developmental objectives the Kingdom wants to reach. I believe that the international defense industry sees this, including BAE Systems,” he concluded.