Boeing’s defence unit aims to build on its decades-long relationship with Saudi Arabia, and sees “some very significant military deals on the table”, says Torbjorn Sjogren, the company’s vice-president and general manager services.
Business opportunities being pursued by the US airframer and the subject of discussions with Saudi officials at the World Defense Show (WDS) near Riyadh have included an offer to equip the nation’s air force with its new F-15EX fighter. Among other topics were “mobility, force deployment and strategic lift”, Sjogren says.
“We have a number of products in our portfolio that are of interest,” he said at the event on 5 February. The discussions also involved Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) chief executive Ted Colbert.
Vince Logsdon, BDS vice-president, international business development, confirms that the F-15EX is “one of the biggest things that we’re talking about right now”.
Should the new model be selected for an expected 54-aircraft requirement, Logsdon says the Royal Saudi Air Force also would look to update its current F-15SA fleet to the same standard. This would include integrating a new radar and updated electronic warfare equipment.
Logsdon notes that Saudi Arabia purchased its first F-15C/D-model jet in 1978. Most recently, it fielded 84 new-build SA-model fighters, and is in the process of having 64 older F-15Ss upgraded to an improved SR standard.
“We have also been talking about our vertical lift platforms,” he says, while the company also is promoting the T-7A Red Hawk advanced jet trainer, with a simulator on its exhibit.
“We want to offer advanced defence capabilities, and we want to invest in partnership, ultimately to help achieve that Vision 2030 [goal],” Logsdon says, referring to Riyadh’s target of placing at least 50% of defence work with domestic industry by the end of the decade.
The Saudi armed forces currently operate more than 400 Boeing-built aircraft, backed by training, support and sustainment services, he notes.
“Our commitment to ‘Saudiisation’, on working with the [local] industry, was something that we were doing already – we believe in it,” says Sjogren, pointing to Boeing’s long-term such involvement via companies like AECC and Alsalam. “Those expectations are more demanding than they have been in the past. We will continue to evolve, and get better.”
“We are looking at the whole value chain,” notes Boeing Saudi Arabia president Asaad Aljomoai of the localisation opportunity.
Developed for the US Air Force, the F-15EX faces competition from the Eurofighter Typhoon, while Dassault Aviation also is promoting its Rafale at WDS, which runs from 4-8 February.