On July 24th, Tuesday, Department of Defense announced the contract with Saudi company, Alsalam Aerospace Industries for the upgrade of six F-15S aircraft to the newer F-15SA configuration. The value of the contract is $59.7 million. The Royal Saudi Air Force has a total of 66 F-15S fighter jets.
This continues Saudi Arabia’s shift to the F-15SA, which is considered to be one of the most advanced F-15 variants ever built, as reported by UPI.
The F-15 Eagle is a single-seat all-weather air superiority tactical fighter jet used by the U.S. Air Force and many allied nations. It is highly maneuverable and is capable of reaching speeds more than twice the speed of sound. It’s first flight was in 1972 and the first active aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1979. The F-15S was the first Saudi-specific variant and is one of the primary fighter jets of the Royal Saudi Air Force. The F-15SA is considered the most advanced version of the jet so far. It has upgraded avionics, electronics warfare systems and a greater payload.
Services under the contract include program management, conversion touch labor, over-and-above, and kit storage. The work on the aircraft will be performed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Defense World reports that it is expected to complete in August 2020, according to the US Department of Defense.
Defense World further reports that the F-15SA aircraft come equipped with the APG-63V3 AESA radar, a digital glass cockpit, Helmet Mouted Cueing System, Digital Electronic Warfare System/Common Missile Warning System (DEWS/CMWS), IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) system, and able to carry a wide array of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry, including the AIM-120C7 AMRAAM and the AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the AGM-84 SLAM-ERs, the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and the GBU-39 SDBs (Small Diameter Bombs) on 11 external hardpoints.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia ordered 84 F-15SA jets from Boeing. In addition to the 84 Boeing fighters, the deal included orders for upgrades to Saudi Arabia’s 70 older F-15s, HARM AGM-88 Anti-Radiation Missiles, Laser JDAM and Enhanced Paveway munitions and related equipment and services. The estimated cost was $29.432 billion, as reported by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The first of the jets was commissioned on January 25th, 2017. According to Aviation News it was delayed by one year due to an unspecified issue with the digital fly-by-wire system.
On March 23rd, another US-Saudi deal was announced by US State department worth more than $1 billion. The package includes a $670m deal for 6,600 TOW anti-missile tanks, a $106m contract for helicopter maintenance and $300m spare parts for military vehicles.
PressTV, on April 10th, posted an article claiming that Saudi Arabia had signed $18 billion worth of deals with France. According to the article, earlier reports claimed that $10 billion of them were focused on cooperation in the oil sector between the state oil giant Saudi Aramco on one side and major French companies including Total, Technip and Suez, on the other.
Other unconfirmed reports by PressTV claim that the major deals during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to France were for arms sale, including navy patrol boats and for Ceasar artillery cannons.
Despite the massive spending on arms by Saudi Arabia, the on-going offensive in Yemen has seen little success, with the most recent attempt to capture the key Yemeni port city of al-Hudaydah, being unable to show any conclusive results.