Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

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)


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)

Saudi Apache down in anti-Yemen ops

A Boeing AH-64 Apache of the Saudi armed forces went down on the border with Yemen on 21 August 2015. Officials in Riyadh confirmed on Saturday that both crew members were killed.

The attack helicopter was apparently engaged in anti-Houthi rebel operations in the Yemen, with the Houthi forces quickly claiming they shot down the Apache in the Jizan province. However, the reason of the crash has not been confirmed by the Saudis, saying they will investigate the cause.

Friday’s incident is not the first loss in the air and ground campaign in Yemen. On 28 March this year a Saudi F-15 Eagle engaged in air strikes was lost at sea.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An AH-64D Apache Longbow. Archive photo (Image © Boeing)

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)