Saudi Defense firm Scopa drops US alliance, diverts to Russia, China
This planned campaign poses a concern to US stakeholders due to potential industrial espionage of NATO defense platforms and systems, a purchase target of Scopa.
The Saudi defense firm Scopa has decided to favor a rapprochement between its parent company Ajlan & Bros, and Russian and Chinese firms instead of US firms.
According to Intelligence Online, the US branch of Scopa Industries, which intended to build foreign military materiel on Saudi soil, shut down on February 26. The conglomerate's deputy chairman, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz al-Ajlan, began layoffs in the US team, which consists of former high-ranking military officers serving as consultants, and led by a US Central Command veteran, Nasr Alghrairi.
Ajlan & Bros's continued tie-building with Russian and Chinese defense firms amid sanctions has been building tensions instead.
In 2021, when Scopa was established, Al-Ajlan launched TAL, the sister company for the Chinese defense market. Al-Ajlan then built Sepha, a company focused on Russia this time, and in the hands of Eduard Kukharchuk, the former business development director of the Kremlin's electronic warfare contractor Concern Granit.
Scopa in France remains on a rocky road
Back in November, Ajlan & Bros launched a campaign to bring the three companies - TAL, Sepha, and Scopa - under one defense and intelligence group managed by the former strategy director at the Saudi defense ministry, Fawaz al-Aqeel.
This planned campaign, heavily supported by Al-Akeel, posed a concern to US stakeholders due to potential industrial espionage of NATO defense platforms and systems - a purchase target of Scopa.
Sepha and TAL were said to have dealt secret partnerships with companies from countries potentially under sanctions, after convincing several US executives to resign. OFAC, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, and DDTC, the US Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, were informed afterward.
Scopa's fate in Europe and especially France remains foggy. However, Faisal Bin Dos, the firm's French-Saudi technology director, is still in his position. Scopa was in the middle of positioning consultants for the area and just hired retired French Navy Vice Admiral Bernard Velly, right before the war in Ukraine.
The firm's negotiations with US manufacturers, like Raytheon and L3 Harris, as a result, remain dead deals.
Deals with France's Airbus, Nexter, and a reluctant Thales, Italian arms manufacturer Beretta and British drone manufacturer U-TacS may well go the same way.