Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Saudi F-15s arrive in Turkey

Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) F-15 fighter jets finally arrived at Incirlik airbase, Turkey, on Friday 26 February after weeks of reports and rumours. The jets were accompanied by an Airbys A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The F-15s are two seat F-15S variants, capable of precision strikes in Syria. Saudi Arabia earlier this month stated it contemplated sending strike aircraft to Turkey for operations over Syria, but it remained unclear wether or when aircraft would actually be deployed.

Riyadh is opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a thought shared by Ankara. The sending of warplanes could escalate the military situation in but especially in the skies over Syria. Russian and Iranian jets have been operating over the country in support of Assas, while Western allied aircraft rage war against Islamic States forces in Syria.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Saudi F-15 (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Antonov gains more ground in Saudi Arabia

Antonov and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement on starting An-132 cargo aircraft production in Saudi Arabia, Antonov reports in a press release dated 21 February. A manufacturing complex will be established in Saudi Arabia by Saudi company Taqnia Aeronautics, which will also provice support for other Antonov products.

The preliminary agreement between Antonov and Saudi Arabia about AN-132 production was already reported here at Airheadsfly.com last year. Also in 2015, Saudi Arabia closed a deal for 30 AN-178 military cargo aircraft for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

The definitive agreement confirms the start up of AN-132 production in 2017 or 2018. The facility should also provide support for the Saudi AN−178s as well as AN-148 aircraft.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The AN-32 where the Saudi AN-132 will be based upon (Image © Antonov)

The AN-178 features winglet innovations. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The AN-178 features winglet innovations. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Saudi jets to bomb ISIS from Turkish Incirlik

UPDATED 16 February | The Royal Saudi Air Force is about to send combat jets to Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, to start bombing runs against the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) in Syria.

Update | News surrounding the deployment is vague at best. Most recent info is that the Saudi jets will deploy to Turkey ‘by the end of February’, sources in Riyadh say.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Cavusoglu confirmed the Kingdom’s plans Saturday 13 February 2015. Saudi quarter makers already inspected Incirlik and see it fit for operations, Cavusoglu said to Turkish journalists.

Escort Element

With the substantial Russian combat air expeditionary wing operating inside Syria, the RSAF probably will not only deploy air-to-ground attack dedicated F-15S/SA Strike Eagles, Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornado IDSs – or a mixture of those – but very likely add a dedicated counter-air/air escort element to the ops. That task could either be done by the Typhoons or Saudi F-15C and D Eagle air-supiority fighters.

AH-64 Apache

According to sources in Ankara and in Riyadh the Saudis are even considering a land operation, with troops being flown into Incirlik to cross into Syria from Turkish territory. If that plan will be executed, it may mean involvement of Saudi AH-64 Apache attack helicopters operating from Incirlik as well, but so far that plan is just a plan.

The Saudis are calling an end to the leadership of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, who in turn is more or less supported by Moscow – at least for the time being.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Eagles at the flightline of Nancy-Ochey Airbase, France, during Exercise Green Shield 2014 (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Bahrain Air Force F-16 down in Yemen war ops

A F-16 fighter jet of the Royal Bahraini Air Force went down in southern Saudi Arabia while being involved in the air operations against Huthi ground forces in Yemen.

According to a statement from the Saudi-led coalition forces that fight in Yemen, the Lockheed Martin jet suffered a technical error. The pilot is said to have ejected the plane before the jet hit the ground in the Jazan region of Saudi Arabia. Although his status is called “safe” no details of his whereabouts have been released.

Moroccan F-16 crash

The RBAF jet crash is the fourth known loss for the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen. A Saudi Armed Forces AH-64 was shot down on 21 August. In May 2015 a Moroccan F-16 crashed, killing the pilot. A Saudi fighter pilot was rescued by US forces after a technical failure downed his F-15S Eagle in March 2015.

Bahraini Fighter Strength

With the loss of the jet today, the RBAF’s combat strength is down to 24 fighter aircraft: 24 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 40s and eight Northrop F-5E/F Tigers. The Bahraini fighter wing operates from Isa Airbase, with 1st and 2nd Fighter Squadron flying the F-16s, and 6th Fighter Squadron operating the Tiger.

Aging Bahraini F-16s

Just in August this year the Royal Bahraini Air Force filed for follow-on support from the US. “The RBAF’s F-16s are aging and periodic maintenance is becoming increasingly expensive,” the US Ministry of Defense wrote to the US Senate while commenting on the proposed deal worth US$ 150 million.

Operation Restoring Hope

Before Bahrain committed to the Saudi-led Operation Restoring Hope (called Operation Decisive Storm until 21 April 2015), its F-16s were contributing to Operation Inherent Resolve fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A F-16C of the Royal Bahraini Air Force (Image © Bahraini Ministry of Defence)

Ukraine sells 30 AN-178 airlifters to Saudi Arabia

Although the deal is not fully put into ink yet, things are looking better again for the Ukrainian Antonov aircraft company. Saudi Arabia wants to buy 30 of its new AN-178 two-engine military airlifters and signed a preliminary agreement on 17 December 2015, Antonov announced.

Talks between the two countries will now determine the exact details of the likely deal, which follows an agreement announced in May this year for the AN-132. Saudi Arabia will produce that version of the AN-32 cargo aircraft / military airlifter on its own, with Ukrainian Antonov transferring the necessary technology and property rights to Taqnia Aeronautics and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in the Kingdom.

Roll out & first flight

The AN-178 is newly designed aircraft that was rolled out of the Antonov factory in Kiev on 7 May 2015 and first flew from Kiev Gostomel airport only three weeks later.  Keeping up the pace, the new transporter made its international airshow debut at the Paris Air Show in June.

The Antonov AN-178 during its airshow debut in Paris. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Antonov AN-178 during its airshow debut in Paris. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Competition

The AN-178 is seen as a financially attractive option and internationally competes with the propeller airlifters of Alenia Aermacchi (C-27J- extensive feature story here) and Airbus (C295) and the new jet-powered Embraer KC-390. The latter suffers from a two year-delay in its development program however.

Antonov has a rough time since Russia initiated hostilities with Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula and Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Joint deals with Russia’s industries – once working closely with their Ukrainian “brothers” – are no longer an option. The Saudi deals bring light at the end of the tunnel.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Antonov AN-178 at Le Bourget, 2015 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The AN-178 features winglet innovations. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The AN-178 features winglet innovations. (Image © Elmer van Hest)