BAE to benefit from mid-life modernisation effort

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This story is sourced from Flight International
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The acquisition of the Eurofighter Typhoon is not the only aspect of Saudi Arabia's air force modernisation process that will benefit BAE Systems - major contracts linked to its provision of a mid-life upgrade to the nation's Panavia Tornado interdictor strike platforms and possibly the supply of new Hawk advanced jet trainers are also expected.

Work has been under way at BAE's Warton site in Lancashire for several years to support the Saudi Tornado upgrade effort, with several sustainment programme demonstrators being used. However, rather than proceed under a "big-bang" contract, the enhancements to the current Saudi fleet are believed to be being made on an incremental basis.

Saudi Arabia was one of the countries visited by BAE's new-generation Hawk 128, now in production for the UK Royal Air Force, during the Eastern Arrow tour in mid-2006, along with neighbouring Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman. The Royal Saudi Air Force currently has 45 Hawk 65/65As, according to Flight's MiliCAS database, with deliveries having taken place between 1987 and 1997.

Saudi efforts to enhance the operational effectiveness of its strike aircraft fleets also include a proposed $1.5 billion upgrade to its Boeing F-15S fighters. Seventy aircraft are to receive replacement General Electric F110-129 engines under the proposed deal, which is intended to boost the F-15's operational capabilities under the harsh environmental conditions of the Gulf region.