The Saudi Defense Ministry has retained BAE Systems to develop the
kingdom's defense industry. BAE has been committed to transfer technology
and production as part of the Eurofighter Typhoon program.
Under the program, BAE was to have significantly expanded its Saudi work
force and recruit local subcontractors for the Eurofighter. But the sources
said BAE would be unable to subcontract anywhere near the amount of work
envisioned in the project, meant to supply 72 aircraft to Riyad.
Russia has also launched a project to deliver the BMP-3 armored combat
vehicle to the Saudi Army. The sources said the contract also included
technology transfer and coproduction.
The development of the kingdom's defense industry has been the
responsibility of the state-owned Saudi Military Industries. The agency has
sought to encourage Saudi defense firms and research institutions.
But the sources said young Saudis preferred to forego the need for years
of training for a career in family businesses. They also cited a long
vetting process by the Saudi security services for anybody prepared to work
in the defense industry.
"The recruitment [for the Saudi defense industry] is now taking place in
Europe, particularly in Britain and Russia," the industry source said.