A RECENT agreement could lead to assembly of Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia. On February 23, Sikorsky signed an agreement with Taqnia Aeronautics to jointly explore helicopter production opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new deal outlines the investment, technology and skills needed to establish production jobs for Saudi citizens, which could lead to direct involvement in the assembly of S-70s in the Kingdom.
The agreement was signed on the opening day of the AFED Local Manufacturing Exhibition in Riyadh by Major General (retired) Ali Al-Ghamdi, Taqnia Aeronautics CEO and Anand Stanley, Sikorsky Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, in the presence of His Highness Prince Dr Turki Al Saud, President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Chairman of Taqnia, Alan Chinoda, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, and Steve O’Bryan, Vice President, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training.
Major General (retired) Ali Al-Ghamdi, Taqnia Aeronautics CEO, said: “Entering into this agreement will give Taqnia Aeronautics the foundation to create a helicopter assembly operation in Saudi Arabia and assist in developing local content. Together we are forging a relationship with a company owned by Lockheed Martin, a global technology leader, which can help grow Saudi involvement in capabilities that are important to the Kingdom’s sustained economic growth.”
Alan Chinoda, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, said: “Since Lockheed Martin first partnered with the Kingdom in 1965, we’ve been privileged to be part of a significant transformation occurring in Saudi Arabia. We are proud to be facilitating the kind of knowledge-based collaboration that accelerates job growth, technology sharing and industrial partnership in the Kingdom.”
Sikorsky’s Anand Stanley added: “We have today laid the foundation for a potential new business where Saudi nationals will support the Kingdom’s continued need for rotary wing products for many years to come.”
In Saudi Arabia, Lockheed Martin partners with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology and Al-Faisal University in Riyadh, helping to develop the next generation of talented young Saudi professionals. The company has also partnered with Babson College to launch a Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense, Ministry of National Guard and Ministry of Interior already operate a fleet of Black Hawks. The Ministry of Interior also operates Sikorsky’s S-92 commercial heavy lift helicopters. Sikorsky is also under contract to deliver ten MH-60R Seahawk helicopters via the US Government’s Foreign Military Sales programme to the Ministry of Defense. Alan Warnes