The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is moving steadily on the path to prosperity and modernization and achieving the goals of Vision 2030, with the support of the country’s leadership that spares no effort to advance the Kingdom and bring it to the ranks of developed countries in various fields and sectors.
Saudi Arabia has paid great attention to the issue of Saudization at all levels to meet the needs of its people, support them, and achieve a decent life for them. Therefore, Saudization strategies have become a major focus in all industries, most notably the military and defence.
Saudization of military industries
In an advanced step that falls within an ambitious project to Saudize the military and defence industries in accordance with Vision 2030, the Kingdom unveiled at the beginning of last July the manufacture of an armored vehicle, which it called “Al-Dahna”, after one of the most famous deserts in Saudi Arabia.
The General Authority for Military Industries announced the signing of a contract for the manufacture of the military vehicle locally between the General Directorate of Border Guards and the General Organization for Military Industries, as the Authority worked in partnership with the Ministry of Interior to award a contract for the manufacture of armored vehicles to the Corporation’s “Armored and Heavy Equipment Factory”, which will work to Saudize these Industries for the benefit of the General Directorate of Border Guards according to the latest international specifications and standards.
The “Al-Dahna” armored vehicle appeared for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX 2019) in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, where the General Organization for Military Industries in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time launched the armored vehicle.
Beneficiaries of armored vehicles
The Armored and Heavy Equipment Factory authority said in an exclusive statement to Al-Jundi Journal, “The beneficiaries of Al-Dahna armored vehicle will be local users during the coming period, as it has been contracted to supply the first batch of the vehicle to one of the security sectors in the Kingdom during the first half of next year 2021, and a discussion is underway to supply the vehicle to a number of military and security sectors in the Kingdom.
The Armor Factory expected that “more than 1000 vehicles will be manufactured in the coming years.”
Regarding the prospects for exporting abroad, the factory expressed its readiness to meet “external requirements in the event that approval is issued by the official authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The Head of the General Authority for Military Industries, Eng. Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, revealed in early July that the local manufacturing of the new “Al-Dahna” vehicle comes within the framework of the Authority’s strategic orientation in terms of achieving national priorities and developing legislation for establishing military industrialization contracts, supporting and empowering local manufacturers, and developing promising local companies to be leading companies, as well as support for major national companies to strengthen their position globally, expand opportunities for qualified national cadres, and to achieve its main goal, which is to reach a Saudization rate of more than 50% of the Kingdom’s spending on military equipment and services.
For his part, the President of the General Organization for Military Industries, Eng. Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Madi, expressed his pride in the establishment’s possession of qualified national capabilities and cadres according to the latest global manufacturing technologies, which resulted in its possession of the right to manufacture and Saudize this type of military vehicles.
He stressed that the vehicle “Al-Dahna” has undergone all standard and kinetic tests according to international classifications, as it is considered a multi-mission four-wheel drive vehicle, compatible with all conditions and specifications for military use.
On the technical and training aspects that will be included in the project to manufacture the Dahna armored vehicle, the General Director of the Border Guard, Lieutenant General Awad bin Eid Al-Balawi, explained that “This project will have a major role in developing the system of armored vehicles in the Border Guard, including training for operators, technicians and trainers in line with the requirements of the next phase in application of the highest standards that aim to raise the efficiency and qualification of border guards’ personnel to perform tasks efficiently in effective partnership with national institutions.
About 15 companies in Saudi Arabia will supply the Armored and Heavy Equipment Factory with a number of necessary parts and inputs used in the “Dahna” armored industry, as its economic returns are many and multiple. The vehicle manufacturing contract will provide about 300 direct jobs (engineering and technical) for Saudi youth, in addition to indirect jobs that will be created by a manufacturing contract, according to what was stated by the Director General of Development at the Military Industries Authority, Engineer Abdullah bin Zar’a, in a telephone interview with the Saudi News Channel.
To shed light on the Dahna armored vehicle, the Armored Vehicle and Heavy Equipment Factory revealed to Al-Jundi Journal the uses, specifications and features of the armored vehicle, which he said was developed in accordance with the new requirements in the field, considering the different climatic conditions and the variety of terrain.
The Armored and Heavy Equipment Factory says: “The distinctive design of the Al Dahna vehicle made it a suitable vehicle to be used in multiple missions, whether for the defence forces, such as special forces, reconnaissance or anti-armor vehicles, and it is also ideal for the tasks of the internal security forces, thanks to its size and weight as it can run on paved roads and within cities to perform tasks efficiently.
Materials used in the manufacture
Resistant iron was used in the construction of the entire hull of the vehicle, providing high protection for the crew and all components of the vehicle, including the engine compartment. The hull and glass of the vehicle contain protective armor from the first level with the possibility of applying add-on armour up to the second or seventh level.
As for the “Al Dahna” propulsion system, it was built by using the best components that comply with the operational requirements of the armored vehicle in various conditions. It is characterized by a strong and easy-to-maintain propulsion system installed on its chassis by an independent suspension system that provides flexibility in movement while maintaining stability in various types of roads.
The armored vehicle is powered by a 4-cylinder diesel engine, and its weight (FB7) is about 9100 kg (approximately 10 tons). It is fortified with a high level of protection while maintaining its low height, which helps to perform its tasks without attracting attention. Its size is ideal to bypass narrow paths in mountainous areas, while also providing it with free movement in urban areas.
The length of the “Al-Dahna” armored vehicle is about 5000 mm, its width reaches 2200 mm, and its height is about 2065 mm.
The vehicle “ground clearance” – the distance between the ground and the lowest point in the center of the vehicle – is about 375 mm, and the approach angle – the maximum inclination the vehicle can climb from the horizontal level without damaging the front part, reaches 45 degrees, while the Departure Angle – the maximum inclination the vehicle can climb from the horizontal level without damaging the rear – reaches 50 degrees.
Regarding the “Dahna” performance indicator, the manufacturer says that “the maximum slope of the armored vehicle” reaches 60%, while the “maximum side inclination” level reaches 30%.
Ikram Ben dalla (Researcher in Military Affairs)