Qatar is keen on developing its own drone technology programme to further enhance its security capabilities, a senior official of the Qatar Armed Forces’ (QAF) Reconnaissance and Surveillance Centre (RSC) has said.
“We are planning to develop this platform because drones are used in the military for security,” explained RSC director, General Khalid bin Ahmad al-Kuwari.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an agreement signing between RSC and Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq) in Education City on Thursday.
The official stressed the need to have “such kind of security” for infrastructure on the sea where 80% of RSC’s work is being done.
During the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference 2016, the QAF had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Polish company WKK to manufacture and produce parts of drones for RSC.
QAF has bought 51% of the company, which specialises in manufacturing composite materials and producing fuselage, Qatar News Agency had reported then. Under the MoU, WKK will support aircraft manufacturing and technology transfer to Qatar.
“We decided to bring the technology to Qatar because we are trying to build up some structures and it is not really a business case for us,” al-Kuwari said. “The use of drones is going to be very important as it is in any country.”
The RSC is also planning to develop a ‘space management concept’ to prevent any untoward incident similar to what happened at the Dubai International Airport last Saturday, when the authorities had to close Dubai’s airspace for 69 minutes due to unauthorised drone activity.
The centre director said plans on how to manage Doha’s “very small but very active airspace” is already in the pipeline.
“It is not a big issue but we have to take care of it. Drones can be sometimes disturbing,” he added. “But drones are very important, easy to handle, and very cheap.”
Drones can also be used for various researches such as studying the geography of Qatar with less time needed than a manned aircraft, according to al-Kuwari.
Tamuq interim dean Dr Ann L Kenimer echoed General al-Kuwari’s remarks saying that drones and other types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems are used for tasks that are considered dull, and most importantly, too dangerous for humans.
“Use of drones is expanding in commercial, scientific, recreational and other applications including policing and surveillance, aerial photography and mapping, agriculture, and even drone racing,” she said.
Dr Kenimer noted that their partnership with RSC will provide opportunities for various research collaborations “that is finding limitless possibilities for drone technology in defence, industry and commerce.
In addition, she said it will also combine expertise to offer custom-designed training and seminars to support the centre’s operations and workforce.
Under the five-year MoU, Tamuq’s engineering students at the branch campus in Doha will have the opportunity to get scholarships and learn more through the internship programmes.
“Seeds of this partnership were planted a few months ago during the Engineering Heroes drone camp, when General al-Kuwari and other officials spoke to some of Qatar’s future engineering leaders about the importance of engineering and the role engineering will play in driving Qatar towards being a modern, knowledge-based economy,” the interim dean added.