WDS 2024 – KNDS France presents Sabir, a 155 mm artillery guided ammunition made in Saudi

Paolo Valpolini

Recent conflicts have highlighted the importance of artillery. Beside the high consumption of conventional ammunition, guided rounds acquired an increasing importance when dealing with point targets where collateral damages must be taken into high consideration. Based on its Katana round, under development for the French Army, KNDS France is aiming at bringing to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a similar round, named Sabir, to be co-developed and produced locally

As part of the Saudi Vision 2030, the KSA aims at bringing in country 50% of its defence expenditures by that date. Independence on ammunition production is one of those steps, and KNDS France is answering this need with its Sabir programme, that will provide, with a phased approach, KSA armed forces with a locally produced guided 155 mm ammunition.

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The roadmap has been agreed with the General Authority for Military Industries, the first step being the production of artillery modular charges, which EDR On-Line understood is already underway. Step two will be the production of the shells, and here too the roadmap has already been defined. A local explosive production facility will have to be established, as well as a filling facility for artillery rounds and potentially other type of ammunition, which is still under discussion according to information gathered at the WDS.

In the mean time KNDS France started discussing with the customer its final requirements for a guided round. The company aims at exploiting as much as possible the know how acquired with the Katana, however the Sabir will have some key differences compared to the round being developed for the Armée de Terre. The latter is fitted with a GPS/INS-based guidance system, which as it was put by company officials means an accuracy “like half a football field,” while the Saudi requirement is for a metric accuracy, in order to use the Sabir against high value targets. The new Saudi-made round will have a range of 45 km when used from a 52-calibre artillery system, while its guidance system will be based on an inertial platform, probably the same used on the Katana, the satellite positioning receiver being here capable to exploit all global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and not only the US one. This will allow bringing the round in the vicinity of the target, then the semi-active laser (SAL) guidance will be used to provide the required metric accuracy, this obviously needing the target to be illuminated by an external player, either a drone or a ground-based illuminator.

KNDS France is currently discussing the programme with Saudi authorities, also for potential exports outside the KSA. Among the advantages of its solutions the French company underlines that its round contains 2 kg more explosive than competitors. A possible range increase to 60 km is also being considered for a further evolution of the Sabir.

Photos by P. Valpolini