The US government has cleared a possible $582 million upgrade package for Saudi Arabia’s Boeing RE-3A Tactical Airborne Surveillance System (TASS) aircraft.

The TASS modernisation programme includes a range of equipment primarily focused on electronic surveillance and communications, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

RE-3A Saudi

Source: Carlos Menendez/Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Saudi Air Force operates a single RE-3A SIGINT aircraft

Specific equipment includes seven embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation system security devices that have an anti-spoofing module, five L3Harris BlackRock Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites, communications terminals, radios, multi-band receivers/transmitters, as well as other equipment consistent with the signals intelligence mission.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving Saudi Arabia’s surveillance capability to counter current and future regional threats, strengthen its homeland defence, and improve interoperability with systems operated by US forces and other Gulf Region partners,” says the DSCA.

“Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.”

The prime contractor for the potential work is L3Harris Technologies in Greenville, Texas. 

Cirium fleets data indicates that the Royal Saudi Air Force operates a single RE-3A. Powered by four CFM International CFM56 engines, the Boeing 707-based aircraft was originally delivered as a tanker in 1987, before becoming converted in 2003/2004 to its current role.

It is one of 13 707 derivatives in service with Saudi Arabia. The others comprise five E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft and seven KE-3A tankers.