The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) recently unveiled its combat drone Saqr 1. The drone is able to fly at an average altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of up to 30 hours, and features automatic take-off and landing, a Ka band satellite data link system, thermal imaging and surveillance technology, and day and night cameras.
It can also be equipped with radar, technology for electronic warfare, jamming and eavesdropping, and bombs and rockets with a payload of up to 400 kg. It has a conventional design with twin vertical tails and a non-retractable tri-cycle undercarriage with a wingspan of 18 meters and length of 9.2 meters. Fuselage and wings are built using carbon fiber composites that reduce weight and reduce the radar signature of the aircraft. The Saqr (‘Falcon’) UAV program has four variants that are characterized by being lightweight and hard to detect. Initially produced for research purposes, they operate automatically through pre-flight programming, only requiring an engineer at ground control.
Development of the aircraft took four years and employed over 200 Saudi engineers from KACST’s Aeronautical Technology center. The Saqr 1 can also used for border patrols, search and rescue, remote sensing and during environmental disasters.
“The techniques used in this drone make it one of the top international drones,” said the director of the drone project, Dr. Khaled Al-Hossan. “It’s characterized by the ability to fly high or low, and to carry laser-guided rockets and bombs. This drone can complete its tasks independently from take-off to landing, and is controlled from a ground station with high precision and stability in navigation in all aviation conditions.”