Chinese Drones Soon Flying Over Saudi Arabia

On April 19, 2104, Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz meet with People’s Liberation Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. General Wang Guanzhong to sign a contract for an unspecified amount of Pterodactyl unmanned aerial systems (aka drones). Also referred to as Wing Loong, the Chinese Mandarin word for Pterodactyl, the system is already serving in the PLA Air Force’s 32nd Division. The Verge notes that such a purchase shows how China is starting to compete with industry leaders the U.S. and Israel as a leading source of military robotics, especially since the U.S. has been hesitant to export UAS even to allies, especially armed types.

Such a deal is also another indication of how improving Sino-Saudi ties have moved beyond the realm of energy and trade to include major defense technology.
Riyadh has already purchased several battalion sets of NORINCO PLZ-45 self propelled howitzers, while Newsweek reported in January 2014 that the CIA had facilitated a 2007 sale of Chinese DF-21 intermediate range ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia as a first strike option against Iran. The Saudis also have been reportedly interested in other modern Chinese armaments like anti-ship missiles and long range surface to air missiles.
Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer – Popular Science