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China to open first drone factory in Saudi Arabia

Hunter-killer aerial drones will be produced in the new factory [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2017

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China is set to establish the region's first drone factory in Saudi Arabia, following the visit of King Salman to the far-eastern nation earlier in March.

Saudi Arabia has granted permission for a Chinese firm to set up the Middle East's first drone factory, which will manufacture hunter-killer aerial drones.

The kingdom's key science and technology organisation confirmed that the factory's setup was agreed during King Salman's visit to China this month.

According to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) signed a partnership agreement on March 16 with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which manufactures China's CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and China signed $65 billion in deals relating to energy, culture, education and technology during the Saudi monarch's visit.

The Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA) had also signed a protocol with China's Aerospace Long-March International Trade (ALIT) for the drone production line in February, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

Earlier in March, China's Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute said its latest combat drone rivals the United States MQ-9 Reaper. It added that it may turn out to be China's "biggest export deal".

The institute tested a yellow prototype of its new Wing Loong II in a 31-minute test flight last week, Chinese state media reported.

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