Saudi Arabia has bought the world’s best marine engines to drive its underwater robots, according to an official report that has raised questions about whether the country’s military is seeking to dominate the technology industry.
The report by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released Monday, said the $1.5 billion purchase of four U.K.-made engines, including two that were built by a U.KS. defense contractor, will provide Saudi Arabia with the necessary “technical infrastructure to develop the required technology, technologies and expertise for the development and deployment of underwater vehicles.”
It also cited “unprecedented” demand from customers for underwater robots and the ability of the Saudi government to secure foreign expertise.
But critics of the sale argue the deal has little chance of benefiting the U.A.E. and that Saudi Arabia is simply buying what it can get.
“This is just a way for the Saudis to show that they are serious about maritime robotics and that they will invest in that sector and the UA.
S., at the same time, is trying to play catch-up,” said Michael D. Sheehan, a research fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The U.N. Committee Against Torture has expressed concern that the deal could undermine a U-turn on its anti-terrorism campaign, which has been plagued by criticism from human rights groups and human rights organizations that the Saudi kingdom is using its military to harass opponents.
Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry denied that it is seeking dominance of the industry, and the country has made no comment on the report.
But the report also casts a cloud over the kingdom’s hopes to compete for a larger share of the global market for underwater vehicles, which have been key components in the kingdom, particularly in its effort to build a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles.
The acquisition could put the U,S.
at a disadvantage in the long term if the Saudi military is trying a “monopolistic approach to underwater robotics,” said Christopher W. Hartung, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s defense policy center.
In addition, it would have a major impact on the UAA’s ability to develop technologies for the future, including the development of a new generation of autonomous vehicles, he said.
“It will have significant impacts on the future of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East,” he said, adding that the UAH could not afford to be a “laggard” in that arena.
The purchase is likely to generate “huge savings” for the U., which is still trying to modernize its fleet after decades of spending billions on the construction of the Kingdom’s first large-scale underwater vehicle, the Zabaydah, which is currently being used to carry out routine surveillance work.
The kingdom, with a budget of about $200 billion, has struggled to meet the cost of its $3 billion underwater vehicles over the past decade.
The kingdom has not yet completed the Zawiya program, and last year began the development phase of a second prototype.
The Zabaya has been the backbone of the kingdom for more than a decade and is seen as the only way the country can maintain its dominance of a global market in underwater vehicles without losing control of its vast resources.
Saudi Arabia’s military, however, is now attempting to diversify its operations to support other nations’ maritime missions, and it is spending millions to modernise its fleet to better meet the needs of its future military.
The Zabays are also expected to be used to help deploy autonomous underwater robots in future operations.
The Saudi government has also pledged to invest in its own underwater robotics program, which aims to develop technology to help the country defend itself from a growing range of threats, including Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State group.
Saudi officials have also promised to develop underwater robots for the countrys future air force, and recently launched a program to develop robotic platforms that can assist the Saudi Air Force in its missions.