Airbus Defence & Space used the second World Defense Show (WDS) event near Riyadh to promote its range of airlift and special mission capabilities to Saudi Arabia.

Current sales opportunities exist for a trio of products, the European company says, including a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) need that it believes could be met by the C295MPA.

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) currently lacks a dedicated maritime patrol capability, with other potential options including the Boeing P-8A Poseidon and an adapted version of the Leonardo C-27J.


Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

The Royal Saudi Air Force already has six A330 MRTTs in operational use

Airbus Defence & Space head of military aircraft Jean-Brice Dumont says Riyadh also is exploring options for an additional purchase of tanker aircraft. The RSAF already has six of its A330 multi-role tanker transports (MRTTs) in use, along with seven Boeing 707-derived KE-3As which are approaching 40 years in age.

Boeing also is eyeing the potential need to modernise Riyadh’s tanker inventory, promoting the KC-46A which is already in service with the US Air Force (USAF) and Japan, and on order for Israel. However, a planned visit to WDS by a USAF KC-46A did not materialise.

Airbus’s defence unit also is eyeing a long-held need to replace the RSAF’s aged Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports, and is pitching its A400M Atlas at the requirement.

A UK Royal Air Force A400M appeared in the static display at the 4-8 February show, having transported a Leonardo Helicopters Wildcat to the event.

RAF A400M at WDS 2024

Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

A UK Royal Air Force A400M was in the static display at the show

Two USAF C-130Js were also on display, with Lockheed also eyeing a potential opportunity to supply the RSAF with additional examples of its latest-generation Hercules. The service currently flies two KC-130J tankers.