Saudi Arabia wants to join the Global Combat Air Program, a multinational initiative to develop a new sixth-generation fighter jet, but local production remains the Middle Eastern nation’s top priority.
Ahmad Al-Ohali, governor of the Saudi government’s general authority for military industries, told Breaking Defense at the World Defense Show that the kingdom is having discussions with the United Kingdom about potentially joining GCAP.
The fighter jet program was established by the U.K., Italy and Japan in 2022.
Al-Ohali also said Riyadh can contribute to GCAP through manufacturing and human capital.
Saudi Arabia is, historically, one of the biggest importers of defense equipment in the world, but its government is trying to change that. It has set a goal to spend half of its defense acquisitions locally by 2030.
The kingdom expressed interest in joining GCAP in 2023, but Japan reportedly opposed the plan over concerns that a new collaborator might slow down the program.
Germany and Sweden are also interested in becoming members of GCAP, according to reports.