Royal Saudi Air Force
|Royal Saudi Air Forces|
|Allegiance||Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques|
|Part of||Royal Armed Forces (since 1925)
|Current commander||Lt. Gen. Prince Turki bin Bandar|
|Low visibility roundel|
The Royal Saudi Air Forces ( RSAF ; Arabic: القوات الجوية الملكية السعودية, al-quwat al-jawwiyyah al-malakiyyah as-sudiyyah) is the aviation branch of the Saudi Arabian Armed forces. The RSAF has developed from a largely defensive military force into one with an advanced offensive capability, and the maintains the third largest fleet of F-15s after the U.S. and Japanese air forces.
The backbone of the RSAF is currently the Boeing F-15 Eagle, with the Panavia Tornado also forming a major component. The Tornado and many other aircraft were delivered under the Al Yamamah contracts with British Aerospace (now BAE Systems). The RSAF ordered various weapons in the 1990s, including Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles, laser-guided bombs and gravity bombs. Al-Salam, a successor to the Al Yamamah agreement will see 48 Eurofighter Typhoons delivered by BAE.
The RSAF was formed in the mid-1920s with British assistance. It was re-organized in 1950 and began to receive American assistance from 1952 including the use of Dhahran Airfield by the United States Air Force.
The Saudi forces are equipped with mainly western hardware. Main suppliers are companies in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Both the UK and the US are involved in training programs conducted in Saudi Arabia.
During the 1980s and 1990s, by Middle Eastern standards the armed forces of Saudi Arabia were relatively small. Its strength however was derived from advanced technology. The backbone of the fighter force is formed by 134 Tornados from which a batch of 48 Tornado IDS were ordered in 1993 under the al-Yamamah II program and 72 F-15S aircraft delivered from the mid-1990s that operate beside the more than 120 F-15C/D aircraft delivered starting in 1981. Aircraft training is executed on the Pilatus PC-9, BAe Hawk, Boeing F-15D Eagle and the Northrop F-5F Tiger II. The C-130 Hercules is the mainstay of the transport fleet and the Hercules is assisted by CASA CN-235s. Reconnaissance is performed by 17 Squadron with its RF-5E and the Boeing E-3A is the Airborne Early Warning platform operated by 18 Squadron.
The VIP support fleet consists of a wide variety of civil registered aircraft such as the Boeing 707, 737 and 747, Lockheed Tri-Stars, MD11s and G1159A as well as Lockheed L-100-30. The HZ- prefix used in the civilian registrations of these aircraft derived from the former name of the territory (Hejaz).
The Al Yamamah contract was controversial because of the alleged bribes associated with its award. Nonetheless, the RSAF announced its intention to purchase the Typhoon from BAE Systems in December 2005. On 18 August 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed for 72 aircraft in a GB£6–10 billion deal.
Following this order, the investigation of the Al Yamamah contract was suppressed by the British prime minister Tony Blair in December 2006, citing "strategic interests" of the UK. On 17 September 2007 Saudi Arabia announced it had signed a £4.4bn deal with BAE Systems for 72 Typhoons.
On 29 December 2011, the United States signed a $29.4 billion deal to sell 84 F-15s in the SA (Saudi Advanced) configuration. The sale includes upgrades for the older F-15s up to the SA standard and related equipment and services.
On 23 May 2012, the British defence firm BAE Systems agreed to sell 22 BAE Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force for a total of £1.9 billion ($3 billion). The deal also included simulators, ground and training equipment and spares. In April 2013, BAE Systems delivered the first two new Typhoons of 24 to Saudi Arabia.
In 2013, the USAF tendered an offer for security services to protect the Saudi air force from cyberwarfare attacks.
The RSAF units are divided into Wings that are dispersed across the seven air bases:
- RSAF Wing 1 at King Khalid Air Base, Khamis Mushait
- RSAF Wing 2 at King Fahad Air Base, Taif
- RSAF Wing 3 at King Abdulaziz Air Base, Dhahran
- RSAF Wing 4 at King Khalid Military City, Hafar Al-Batin
- RSAF Wing 5 at King Khalid Air Base, Khamis Mushait
- RSAF Wing 6 at Prince Sultan Air Base, Al Kharj
- RSAF Wing 7 at King Faisal Air Base, Tabuk
- RSAF Wing 8 at King Abdullah Air Base, Jeddah
- RSAF Wing 11 at King Abdulaziz Air Base, Dhahran
Units of the RSAF
- 1 Squadron (Royal Flight/BBJ&HS125)
- 2 Squadron (F-15C And F-15D)
- 3 Squadron (Eurofighter Typhoon)
- 4 Squadron (C-130)
- 5 Squadron (F-15C And F-15D)
- 6 Squadron (F-15S)
- 7 Squadron (Tornado IDS)
- 8 Squadron (The Mushshak)
- 9 Squadron (PC-9)
- 10 Squadron (Eurofighter Typhoon)
- 11 Squadron (Royal Flight/G-IV&CE550)
- 12 Squadron (Bell 212)
- 13 Squadron (F-15C And F-15D)
- 14 Squadron (Helicopters)
- 15 Squadron (OUT SERVICE)
- 16 Squadron (C-130)
- 18 Squadron (E-3/KE-3A)
- 19 Squadron (RE-3A)
- 21 Squadron (BAE Hawk)
- 22 Squadron (PC-9)
- 24 Squadron (A330 MRTT)
- 25 Squadron (Bell 412)
- 29 Squadron (Tornado ADV to be replaced with the F-15SA)
- 30 Squadron (Helicopters)
- 32 Squadron (KC-130H And KC-130J)
- 33 Squadron (Royal Medical Flight)
- 34 Squadron (F-15C And F-15D)
- 35 Squadron (Jetstream)
- 37 Squadron (BAE HAWK)
- 42 Squadron (F-15C AND F-15D)
- 44 Squadron (Bell 412)
- 55 Squadron (F-15S)
- 66 Squadron (Tornado IDS)
- 75 Squadron (Tornado IDS)
- 79 Squadron (BAE Hawk)
- 80 Squadron (Eurofighter Typhoon)
- 83 Squadron (Tornado IDS)
- 88 Squadron (Hawk)
- 92 Squadron (F-15S)
- 99 Squadron (Cougar)
Previous aircraft flown by the Royal Saudi Air Force included the Caproni Ca.100, Albatros D.III, Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8, Farman MF.11 Airco DH.9, dH 82 Tiger Moth, Westland Wapiti, Avro Anson, Douglas C-47, B-26 Invader, F-86F Sabre, dH 100 Vampire FB.52, Hawker Hunter F.60, BAC Lightning, BAC Strikemaster Mk 80, DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk 10, C-54A Skymaster, C-123B Provider, T-6A Texan, T-33A Shooting Star, Cessna 310, O-1 Bird Dog, T-35A Buckaroo, T-34A Mentor, OH-58A Kiowa, T-28A Trojan, F-5 Tiger II, Lockheed JetStar, dH Comet 4C (VIP transport), BAe 146, Alouette III.
The following officers have been commanders of the RSAF:
- Captain Abdullah al-Mandili
- Major Rashid al-Saleh
- Major Gen. Ibrahim al-Tassan (1950 – 1966)
- Major Gen. Hashim bin Said Hashim (1966 –1972)
- Lt. Gen. Asaad al-Zuhair (1972 –1980)
- Lt. Gen. Mohammed Sabri Suleiman (1980 –1984)
- Lt. Gen. Abdullah bin AbdulAziz al-Hamdan (1984 –1987)
- Lt. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Behery (1987 –March 1996)
- Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz bin Mohammad Al-Henadi (March 1996 –4 April 2004)
- Lt. Gen. Prince Abdulrahman Al-Faisal (4 April 2004 –16 June 2010)
- Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ayesh (16 June 2010 –10 May 2013)
- Lt. Gen. Fayyadh Al Ruwaili (10 May 2013 –14 May 2014)
- Lt. Gen. Muhammad Al Shaalan (14 May 2014 –10 June 2015)
- Major Gen. Mohammed al-Otaibi (10 June 2015 –26 February 2018)
- Lt. Gen. Prince Turki bin Bandar (26 February 2018 –present)
- Royal Saudi Air Force Museum
- Saudi ranks
- Prince Sultan Advanced Technology Research Institute (معهد الأمير سلطان لأبحاث التقنيات المتقدمة), a Defense research and development center established by Royal Saudi Air Force and King Saud University.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Saudi Air Force.|
- Official website
- Order of Battle at Scramble magazine
- "The Royal Saudi Air Force – A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger"