Antonov’s new multipurpose AN−132D took to the skies for its maiden flight last week from the company’s airfield in Kyiv, Ukraine. The new aircraft flew for 1 hour and 50 minutes in the hands of a crew from Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. The AN−132 is being developed in cooperation with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and the Тaqnia Aeronautics Company, both based in Saudi Arabia.
The AN−132D multipurpose turboprop aircraft is intended for operation on short and medium−haul routes. The new aircraft will perform a variety of tasks, such as the transportation bulk cargo and vehicles weighing up to 9.2 tonnes. The aircraft is also suited for para drops.
The next important step will be the presentation of the AN−132D in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which will be conducted after the completion of more aircraft tests, according to Antonov. After last week’s flight, the Center of King Abdulaziz City Science and Technology, emphasised the importance of the project to Saudi Arabia.
The Hercules fleet of Saudi Arabia is getting bigger and bigger. Upon the 48 aircraft “the Kingdom” is already operating, just two new ones arrived.
The latest deliveries are two KC-130Js, making Saudi Arabia the 16th country operating the type for its in-flight refuelling needs. No other country in the world more C-130s than Saudi Arabia, apart from the aircraft’s homeland United States of course.
Saudi Hercules fleet
In total the Royal Saudi Air Force will receive 5 KC-130Js, while it has 20 regular C-130J-30s on order as well. They will be added to the 30 C-130E/H tactical airlifters, 7 KC-130H tankers, 6 L-100-30 airlifters and 5 VC-130H VIP aircraft.
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.
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.
Saudi Arabia has ordered at least 22 more Hawk trainer jets, sources in Saudi Arabia said on Thursday 18 February. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has been using Hawk for several decades already and now requires more to train aspiring Eurofighter Typhon pilots. The deal is worth 3 billion USD and includes support and training.
In the Eighties and Nineties, Saudi Arabia already ordered 50 older model Hawks. These aircraft are also flown by the Saudi Hawks, the RSAF display team. In 2012, the newer T2 version was ordered, with 22 delivered to the kingdom.
BAE Systems has yet to comment on the news, but is expected to confirm the Saudi order in a statement. In its 2015 results, the defense company already mentions an order for 22 Hawks, which likely is the order mentioned now in Saudi Arabia.