Saudi Arabia signs 102-aircraft military training deal

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Saudi Arabia's next-generation military pilot training system will comprise 22 BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers and 55 Pilatus PC-21 turboprops, the UK company has confirmed.

Announcing details of a roughly £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) government-to-government contract on 23 May, BAE said the deal is aimed at "meeting the growing demands of a world-class air force".

 

© BAE Systems

Riyadh requires an advanced training capability to support operations with its Eurofighter Typhoons and future new and upgraded Boeing F-15SA strike aircraft. The Royal Saudi Air Force's current trainer inventory includes 45 Hawk 65/65As, the oldest 29 of which were delivered in 1987 and 1988, as recorded in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The service also flies 47 Pilatus PC-9s, acquired as part of an earlier Al Yamamah arms procurement deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK.

 

© Pilatus

Pilatus has already sold the PC-21 to the United Arab Emirates

Deliveries of the PC-21 basic trainers will start in 2014, with the new Hawks to follow from 2016, BAE says. Its deal also includes the provision of associated equipment, including simulators and other training aids, plus the instruction of Saudi personnel. It will also deliver an initial support package for the new types.

The UK Ministry of Defence says the package will also include 25 primary training aircraft, but has not confirmed the model involved.

Confirmation of the deal comes as good news for BAE and Pilatus, which have both been seeking new customers for their latest trainer products. BAE has already completed the production of 28 new-generation Hawk 128/T2s for the Royal Air Force, while its Swiss partner is building the remaining PC-21s contained within orders with Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.