After Obama snub, Saudis tap up South Africa for armed drone

Saudi Arabia is reportedly purchasing an armed drone from South Africa, creating concern over the regime's human rights record and its implementation of such technology

by The Commentator on 2 April 2013 11:49


Saudi Arabia is to procure an armed drone from South Africa following an Obama administration refusal to sell the oil-rich kingdom U.S. Predator or Reaper missile-firing, unmanned aircraft.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the state-owned South African company Denel Dynamics is working covertly with the Saudis to develop the Seeker 400 drone into an armed combat system for the Saudi military.

Intelligence Online noted that the Saudi military would be the first customer to purchase the Seeker 400 armed drone and engineers from Denel are currently in the country as part of the program.

The new drone is reported to come equipped with South Africa’s Mokopa air-to-ground missiles that are currently deployed on Algerian helicopters. The drone also can be outfitted with laser-guided missiles with a range of 10 kilometres.

While the Saudis maintain that the drones are for use in countering Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, some have expressed their concern over Saudi Arabia's human rights record, and the worry that drones could eventually be used against its own population in the event of a popular uprising.

Emily Dyer, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society think-tank in London said, "Drones technology is spreading in an increasing number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, in an environment free from a globally accepted set of guidelines.

"Combined with Saudi's brutal human rights record, whereby peaceful protesters are actively targeted, and in some cases killed, by security forces, these developments suggest that Saudi Arabia's own population is neither protected nor free from the potential threat posed by its government buying armed drones."

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