Airbus SE has signed an investment agreement to build military and civilian helicopters in Saudi Arabia with a local defense company SCOPA Industries Corp, according to Bloomberg.
Airbus and SCOPA Industries Corp. of Saudi Arabia agreed to develop a helicopter manufacturing facility in the Kingdom, with construction of the plant expected to begin early next year, Fawaz Alakeel, Scopa CEO, said in an interview in Paris, Reuters reported.
“The first helicopters produced at joint SCOPA and Airbus factories in Saudi Arabia would be seen within 24 months of the World Defense Show (WDS) 2024 (Riyadh, 4-8 February 2024), where the “foundation stone” for the project would be laid,” he explained.
“We’ve been working with Airbus on this deal for the last year until we reached this agreement,” Alakeel noted.
He added that SCOPA expects to manufacture more than 100 helicopters and create 8,500 jobs in the Kingdom.
Without giving further details he said the company expects investments worth more than 25 billion riyals ($6.67 billion) over 20 years.
The deal was announced on the sidelines of a Saudi-French Investment Forum held during a visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to France that started last week.
Saudi and French companies have signed 24 agreements at the Forum, Saudi state TV reported without further details.
Building up the domestic defense industry is part of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s plan to diversify the oil dependent Saudi economy. HRH wants half of the Kingdom’s military expenditure to be spent locally by 2030.
Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s biggest defense budgets, behind the US, China, Russia and India.
SCOPA Industries Corp. LLC is the preeminent defense company in Saudi Arabia and contributes directly to the Vision 2030 strategic plan by creating organic military industries, modernizing the Saudi Armed Forces, and reaching the global defense and security market. (Reuters; Bloomberg; SCOPA; Photo © Mohamed Al-Ajlan/Twitter)