Support: Substantial Saudi Support Sale


June 9, 2012: Saudi Arabia has contracted Britain to provide training aircraft and personnel, as well as support equipment and services needed to select and instruct pilots for the 72 Typhoon fighters that have recently been purchased from Britain. This deal involves the delivery of 55 PC-21 basic flight training aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainers.

The Hawk advanced jet trainers are the most successful Western aircraft of this type, at least in terms of sales (over 900 have been sold). The US Navy uses the Hawk, along with 16 other nations. The nine ton aircraft are used to train pilots who will eventually fly jet fighters. The Hawk can also be armed and used for ground attack.

The propeller driven PC-21 has a pressurized cockpit with a bubble canopy and a modern "glass" cockpit. The aircraft can pull 8 Gs while maneuvering. There are five hard-points, enabling the aircraft to carry a ton of bombs and missiles. The PC-21 cruises at 660 kilometers an hour and has a max speed of 720 kilometers an hour. Max altitude is 12,000 meters (38,000 feet). The Swiss firm Pilatus will begin deliveries of the PC-21 to the UAE in two years.

The Typhoon is a somewhat stealthy multi-role fighter. It is fast, maneuverable, and carries a lot of weapons. It also can be used for attack missions. This 23 ton aircraft is the principal fighter in the air forces of Britain, Spain, Germany, and Italy. The Typhoon is closer in capability to the F-15 than the F-22 and is competing with the F-35 for many export sales. The Typhoon gives Saudi Arabia an excellent air superiority fighter, and 72 of them gives the kingdom excellent protection from Iran, which is apparently the primary purpose of this purchase. Back in the 1990s, the Saudis purchased 139 Eurofighter Tornado aircraft, as well as a similar number of U.S. F-15s. Currently, the Saudi Arabian air force is the most powerful in the Persian Gulf, largely because of its modern aircraft and heavy use of Western technicians and advisors to maintain readiness and training standards.

This importation of foreign experts is very common in the Arab oil nations because the locals tend to avoid heavy physical or mental labor. Foreign workers provide most of the non-government workforce and are brought in to handle most government jobs (like training pilots and maintaining weapons) that require high skill levels and lots of experience. The Arab monarchs are trying to change these local attitudes but it has been difficult. Since all of the oil states in Arabia are monarchies, the rulers quickly found that the most effective way to keep themselves in power was to keep their subjects pampered and happy. In other words, spread the oil money around and pay attention to public opinion. Most of the public backs the use of foreigners and the continued use of oil money to make life easy for the locals.


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