Procurement: Saudis Try to Buy Protection


December4, 2006: Alarmed as the increasing military power of Iran, and a Shia government in Iraq, Saudi Arabia is going to spend $60 billion, over the next few years, to increase the quantity and quality of its armed forces. Ground forces manpower will be increased 20 percent, to 275,000 (150,000 in the army, and 125,000 in the National Guard, a tribal force that, ultimately, is there to protect the monarchy from a rebellious army). The army's 315 M1 tanks will be upgraded to the M1A2S standard. There's a possibility that 350 French Leclerc tanks may be purchased as well, if only to buy a little more diplomatic support from the French. The National Guard is also getting its own air force, of 96 helicopters (64 NH-90 transports, 12 Tiger gunships helicopters and 20 Eurocopter Cougar heavy transports). The army is getting another 24 UH-60 helicopter transports, and another 25 AH-64D helicopter gunships.

Most of the money is going to the air force, which is getting 72 Eurofighter aircraft, and upgrades to the current fleet of 155 F-15s and 96 Tornado IDSs. If the French need more motivation, 48 French Rafale fighters may be purchased as well.

The navy will get upgrades to existing ships.


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