SELF-SUFFICIENCY

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | INDUSTRY & DEFENSE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Andreas Schwer, CEO of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, on domestic procurement, aeronautics, and ambitions for the years to come.

Dr. Andreas Schwer

The Saudi administration has set comprehensive targets for localization for the defensive and aviation industries. How do you envision SAMI's role here?

Working under the directives outlined in the Vision 2030 blueprint, SAMI plays a key role in localizing the total government military spending in Saudi Arabia, increasing domestic procurement to 50% by 2030 to be among the top 25 military industry companies in the world. We are keen to achieve this by making SAMI a turning point in the development of Saudi military industries, with targets such as a direct contribution of around SAR14 billion (USD3.7 billion) to the Kingdom's GDP, an investment of over SAR6 billion (USD1.6 billion) on R&D to ensure complete alignment with the latest industry trends and advancements, and the creation of 40,000 direct jobs for Saudis.

Can you elaborate on your involvement across aeronautics and land systems, including military vehicles and defense electronics?

SAMI currently focuses its investment on the development of new technologies and manufacturing of products and provides services across four business divisions. These are aeronautics, which includes aircraft, combat rotorcrafts, transport aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and aerostructures; land systems, which includes wheeled and tracked armored vehicles, logistics vehicles, turret systems, protection systems, and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs); weapons and missiles, which includes missiles and guided weapons, launchers, conventional weapons/guns, and ammunition; and defense electronics, which includes radar and microwave, optoelectronics, communication systems, electronic warfare, C4I, cyber warfare, and naval combat systems. In addition, we are currently leading Saudi Arabia's efforts to develop self-sufficient defense capabilities through the establishment of a sustainable military industries sector, covering the full value chain across our four business divisions. We will also heavily invest in new technologies in cooperation with local universities and R&D centers.

How do you envision fostering relations with multinationals and global knowledge hubs for local capacity building?

At SAMI, we pride ourselves on our team, which includes specialized and experienced professionals who work together and put forth their best efforts to ensure the company's success, excellence, and achievement of its vision and objectives. This is coupled with the latest technologies in the field of military industries. At the same time, we have been extremely successful thus far in attracting leading international companies in this sector to transfer their expertise, knowledge, and technologies to the Kingdom to benefit from enriching our operations, achieving our strategic objectives, and reflecting our vision for the future. We combine the latest technologies and the best national talent to develop military products and services on par with international standards and achieve the Kingdom's self-sufficiency in military industries. So far, we have signed MoUs and MoAs with renowned military companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, General Dynamics, MBDA, Thales, and Navantia to produce world-class weapons systems and support the growth and development of its four business divisions. All these agreements will help SAMI establish itself as a leading military manufacturer in the region. On top of this, SAMI aspires to be an enabler to the local military manufacturing industry, as it will pass on its knowledge and expertise to other military industries in the Kingdom.

What are your primary ambitions for the years ahead?

In the near future, SAMI will roll out its joint ventures and build up all required manufacturing and service capacities. At the same time, we will set up engineering competence centers and invest in cutting-edge technologies to design our indigenous products. SAMI will provide the Kingdom's main military needs in the future and benefit from existing capabilities within the military industry, which we are going to integrate. This will allow us to build up a robust military industry sector in the Kingdom.