Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the National Champion of Military Industries Localization, and Airbus have signed an agreement on December 4 to form a joint venture on military aviation services and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the visit of the President of France Emmanuel Macron to Saudi Arabia. The agreement was signed by Eng. Walid Abukhaled, CEO of SAMI, and Bruno Even, Member of the Airbus Group Executive Committee. The transaction is subject to closing conditions, including antitrust clearances from the relevant competition authorities.
Commenting on the announcement, H.E. Mr. Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, said: “The signing of today’s joint venture agreement with Airbus represents another important milestone on our journey to establish SAMI as a local and regional leader in the defense industry. This strategic partnership is in line with SAMI’s vision to be among the world’s top 25 defense companies and the Saudi Vision 2030 objective to localize more than 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending by 2030. This also comes as part of our long-term strategy of partnering with leading global aerospace players. We look forward to working together to enhance local capabilities and develop a robust and sustainable aviation MRO ecosystem.”
SAMI CEO Eng. Walid Abukhaled stated: “We are pleased to partner with Airbus for the launch of this joint venture. The new Saudi entity will capitalize on Airbus’ extensive experience and leading-edge capabilities to pave the way for the rapid growth of the military aviation services sector in Saudi Arabia. In addition to accelerating the transfer of technology and expertise to the Kingdom, the agreement will further strengthen the local supply chain and help ensure the self-sufficiency of the national defense sector.”
Headquartered in Riyadh with some presence at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Al-Kharj, the joint venture is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2022, subject to securing mandatory regulatory and competition approvals. SAMI will hold a 51-percent shareholding, and Airbus will own the remaining stakes in the new entity, which will focus on building up a robust and sustainable aviation services sector thriving on local capabilities and talent, as well as strengthening the local supply chain within the industry.
The new entity will play a role in the development of the domestic military industries sector to create new quality jobs for Saudis, strengthen the Kingdom’s defense self-sufficiency, and drive growth in the national economy in line with the objectives of Vision 2030.
The joint venture’s solutions and services will initially cater to the entire MRO spectrum of the Airbus military fixed wings fleet, including A330MRTT and C295, with the possibility of expansion to other platforms in the future. It aims to contribute to enhanced operational readiness, improved logistics and supply chain support, increased indigenous design and upgrade capability, and reduced reliance on foreign engineering support within Saudi Arabia’s military industries ecosystem.