Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Recap: defense orders at Paris Air Show

UPDATED 19 June | As always its the orders for airliners that fight for attention at the Paris Air Show, but on the military side, things are happening as well. Most interesting little fact was the apparent first export order – announced on Monday – for the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, although no country was mentioned. Let’s not be surprised however when it turns out to be Myanmar.

Pakistan Air Force officials only described the country that soon may add the JF-17 to its military inventory, as ‘Asian’. The same officials reported that current turmoil in the Middle East has slowed down export talks. The JF-17’s development meanwhile continues, with a possible two seat version on the way.

On the slower spectrum, Mali and Ghana agreed to buy six and five A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft respectively, while Saudi Arabia signed for four Airbus C295W medium transport and patrol aircraft. Perhaps the most prominent deal was the purchase of four Boeing C-17s for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

As far as helicopters are concerned, Malaysia placed an order with Airbus Helicopters for two AS365 Dauphins for SAR duties.

Unnoticed by many was the first sale for Aero Vodochody of its new L-39NG aircraft. More on that is here.

Dassault’s Rafale was the most numerous aircraft. Three Rafales were on the ground, while a fourth gave a flying display. In the trade halls, models of Rafales in the colours of Qatar, India and Egypt were seen. Given the recent orders from those countries, further Rafale sales are unlikely.

Also in the halls, Alenia Aermacchi was pitching its M-345 jet trainer. France is reportedly interested in this trainer aircraft. Elsewhere, Antonov was pitching its new An178 transporter. The Ukrainian company also announced the An188, a military transport aircraft in the A400M and Boeing C-17 category, powered by four turbofan engines.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Caught by its tail: a Black Panther’s JF-17 from Pakistan. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Saudia Arabia will build its own AN-132 aircraft

Saudi Arabia will start production of its own version of the Antonov AN-32 cargo aircraft / military airlifter, called the AN-132, both for military and civilian purposes. Sources in Kiev and Riyadh confirmed that a deal has been made.

Ukrainian Antonov will transfer the necessary technology and design property rights to the Kingdom, where Taqnia Aeronautics and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology will jointly produce the AN-132 from 2017 or 2018 on and forward.

Compared to Antonov’s own AN-32 the Taqnia/KACST AN-132 will feature Pratt & Whitney Canada aircraft engines, a Honeywell navigation suite and several other Western made avionics and components. Antonov is likely to send Ukrainian specialists to Saudi Arabia until the Kingdom is up to speed with things.

Some sources say during the first year of full production eight to twelve aircraft are planned, but we at Airheadsfly.com consider it quite likely that Taqnia/KACST will put together one to three prototypes first.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The AN-32 where the Saudi AN-132 will be base upon (Image © Antonov)

Saudi F-15 lost during Yemen ops

UPDATED 30 MARCH 2015 | A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15D or F-15S Eagle fighter jet was lost while engaged in Operation Decisive Storm, the air and ground strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The jet – which suffered a mechanical problem according to officials – came down in international waters in the Gulf of Aden on Friday 27 March 2015.

An UAE F-16 after being refuelled by a USAF KC-10A Extender (Image © Michael B. Keller / USAF)
RELATED POST: Yemen air strikes not only Saudi affair
According to US military sources the two Saudi crew members were rescued from the sea by a US Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter within two hours after their ditch.

The helicopter was launched from Camp Lemonnier, the only US military base in Africa ran as a US Naval Expeditionary Base 150 miles (240 km) southwest of the Yemeni port city of Aden. Part of Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport Camp Lemmonnier is home to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. Currently the (combat) rescue assets in Djibouti are provided for by the Alaska Air National Guard, with three HH-60s from 210th Rescue Squadron and two Lockheed Martin HC-130 King fixed-wing aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron.

The RSAF F-15 is the first Arab coalition loss in the military operations against the Houthi rebels, which were launched on 25/26 March. More than 180 aircraft are said to be involved in the air strikes, while ground forces advance too. The aircraft lost was likely the strike variant F-15S.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15D Eagle during Exercise Green Shield 2014 (Image © Dennis Spronk)

A pair of 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters fly over Alaska on a training mission (Image © Master Sgt. Sean Mitchell / Alaska Air National Guard)
A pair of 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters fly over Alaska on a training mission (Image © Master Sgt. Sean Mitchell / Alaska Air National Guard)

Saudis use Typhoons and F-15s in Yemen air strike

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) used F-15s and Typhoons in an air strike on Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday, news reports say. The Saudi operation is said to be backed by Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Morroco. According to press agency Reuters, these counties are also sending warplanes to the area.

Yemen is battling rebel forces backed by Iran, which earlier led to US special forces leaving the country in a hurry. The rebels soon afterwards seized an airbase where the Americans were previously stationed.

The Saudi strike was aimed at a military airbase near the Yemeni capital. It marks the second time the Saudis use the Eurofighter Typhoon in anger, as the type has also been used in operations against Islamic State Forces in Iraq, dropping Paveway IV bombs. The RSAF purchased 72 Eurofighter Typhoons in 2007, all being manufactured by BAE Systems in the UK.

The RSAF has been a fervent user of the Boeing F-15 for years, with both F-15C air superiority and F-15S multirole fighters in service.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15C Eagle. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

“Swedish-Saudi defence deal cancelled” – No more Saab AEW planes

A large number of Swedish media report on 10 March 2015 that the government in Stockholm is cancelling the 10-year old defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia. Once confirmed by the government – something it is said to do soon – it will definitely mean that there will be no second (or third) SAAB E-2000 (Saab 2000 Erieye) Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft heading towards the Kingdom.

Diplomatic relations between the largest Scandinavian country and the leading Arab nation when it comes to purchasing Western made aircraft reached a freezing point this week, after Saudi Arabia prevented Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström to deliver her planned speech to the League of Arab States. Mrs. Wallström earlier called a series of legal but physically punishments of a Saudi blogger “almost medieval methods”, causing anger in Riyadh.

A future of the SAAB E-2000 in Royal Saudi Air Force service already looked quite grim, as Airheadsfly.com reported on 20 February of this year.

Apart from the SAAB AEW&C aircraft Swedish arms companies have been selling other stuff as well. The Kingdom showed, however, never serious interest in the SAAB Gripen fighter jet, having chosen a mix of US-made F-15C Eagles plus F-15E Strike Eagles and British-made Eurofighter Typhoons and Tornado IDS jets instead.

The only possible scenario with Saab aviation technology will flow to Saudi Arabia in the future might be through Boeing. If the American manufacturer manages to get a possible export order for its T-X advanced jet trainer it is developing with SAAB for the US Air Force. But that plane is still so far from reality – and might never leave the drawing board – that any such export deal is still very much speculation alone.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The Saab 2000 Erieye (Image © Saab AB)

A Royal Saudi Air Force E-3 Sentry taking off (Image © Boeing)
Apart from a single SAAB E-2000, the Royal Saudi Air Force relies on the Boeing E-3 Sentry for its AWACS needs (Image © Boeing)