The aviation wing of the Royal Saudi armed forces is the Royal Saudi Air Force. The main role of the Royal Saudi Air force or the RSAF is aerial warfare and a total of over 20,000 air force personnel are serving the Royal Saudi Air Force in various capacities. The Saudi Air Force came into existence in the mid 1920’s and has slowly developed from being a largely defensive military unit to one of the most advanced offensive air force unit in the Persian Gulf. The Saudi Air Force is the third largest air force in the world when it comes to holding a fleet of F-15’s after United States Air Force and the Japanese Air Force. The Panavia Tornado and the Boeing F-15 Eagles are the two most important fleets that are keeping the Saudi Air Force afloat in the air. The Royal Saudi Air Force has had several good engagements since its inception and some of the notable engagements include: The Gulf War, The Desert Shield, Desert Storm Operation, Battle of Khafji and the Sa’dah insurgency. Some of the type of fleets that are in the armory of the royal Saudi Air Force range from the fighters to the attack aircrafts to the bombers to the interceptors to the reconnaissance to the trainer aircrafts and also the transport aircrafts.
Royal Saudi Air Force History
The Saudi Air Force was formed in the year 1920 under the assistance of the British and was under the control of the army of Saudi Arabia. The Royal Saudi Air Force was fully established as a separate unit in 1950 during the rule of Abd al Aziz. Its former air operations had been under the hold of the army. In its initial years, the Saudi air force was charmed primarily by the British, who offered aircraft and consultants and assisted to educate Saudi Arabian airplane pilots and maintenance force in the kingdom and in United Kingdom. U.S.A influence, exhaling from the air station at Dhahran that was hired by the United States from 1952 to 1962, was as well crucial to the premature evolution of the Royal Saudi air force. Some United States aircraft were reassigned to the Saudi Arabian Air Force from units functioning at Dhahran and the U.S. Armed forces Training Mission at Dhahran coached Saudi Arabian pilots and maintenance personnel.
In the year 1972, the 1st of 114 Northrop F-5’s were handed over to the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Saudi Arabian air force still employs three squadrons of advanced versions of the F-5 in the fighter-ground assault function, a squadron for reconnaissance mission, and a number of aircraft as innovative jet trainers. It was in the year 1984; the first deliveries were acquired of the more advanced F-15’s. By 1992 the Royal Saudi Air Force had 78 F-15’s, including attack aircraft conversion trainers.
It was because of the United States government repulse, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia changed state to United Kingdom to fulfill its air force requirements. In mid-1988, it was declared that as a portion of a large dealing, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would adopt Tornado attack aircrafts from Great Britain in their strike and air defense configurations; in addition it will also purchase Hawk jet trainers and Pilatus PC-9 flight simulators assembled in Switzerland and furnished in United Kingdom. In early 1992, three of the Royal Saudi Air Force fighter-ground assault squadrons were armored with Tornadoes and three squadrons were fitted out with F-5Es. Two air defense squadrons were helmeted with Tornadoes and three squadrons were armored with F-15Cs. The 3 transport squadrons were provided with C-130’s in different editions and CASA C-212’s, a moderate transport of Spanish conception. The 2 chopper squadrons hired an assortment of smaller rotor blade aircraft. Unshaken by its preceding failure to demonstrate an ascertained provision of armed combat aircraft from the United States government, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declared towards the end of 1991 that it had posted an order with McDonnell Douglas for another seventy-two F-15′s. It appeared dubious whether the sales agreement would be sanctioned by the United States government brass and the US Congress.
Since ground-based radio detection and ranging could not allow for competent boosted warning of assaults on susceptible targets along the Persian Gulf, especially from close by Iranian air station bases, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia placed order for five E-3A AWACS aircraft in 1981. To ease Israel’s concerns, the aircraft were armored specifically for the defending necessities of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea areas alone. The 1st aircraft accomplished functional position in 1987 eventually to help United States naval operations in the tank ship warfare in the Persian Gulf. Coaching and back up services were offered by the Boeing Corporation and a US Air Force team. United States Congress demanded that the United States government have significant ascendance over the employment of the airplanes and a portioning out of the AWACS data. In 1985 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia likewise signed on a consortium maneuvered by Boeing for the Peace Shield command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) arrangement. Its aim was to associate data collected by AWACS and ground-based surveillance radio detection and ranging with fighter aircrafts and base air defense, including the I-Hawk surface-to-air missile, to allow for structured air defense against assaults across the gulf and Red Sea and from the way of Republic of Yemen. In 1991 it was proclaimed that the Hughes Aircraft Corporation had taken over the control of the project, which had been the reason for the holds up in its culmination.
As of 1992, the 1st line armed combat air force of the Royal Saudi Air Force comprised of approximately two hundred aircraft, orchestrated into 6 attack aircraft/ground-attack squadrons and 5 fighter-air defense squadrons. The personnel strength of the Saud Arabian air force was approximated to be more or less 18,000. Whilst humble in comparability to the aviation power of adjacent nations, the Royal Saudi Air Force was believed to be the most advanced and efficient of the Saudi services. Its deputation was to guard the economic facilities and the widely dissipated population centers of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against onslaught and, specially, to force back air raids or amphibiotic attacks against the nations extremely tender oil pumping stations, treating and shipment installations, and oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. The first-line armed combat fighters were deployed at four cardinal flying fields: Dhahran, to represent the main oil installations of the Persian Gulf; at Taif, encompassing the ports and beatified cities of the lower Red Sea; Khamis Mushayt, holding the Yemeni border zone; and Tabuk, to represent the primal ports of the upper Red Sea region and Saudi Arabian air space adjoining Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, and State of Israel. These four base stations and the air station base at Riyadh were shielded from air attack by reinforced Hawk (I-Hawk) surface-to-air missiles, hard-boiled aircraft shelters, and belowground command posts.
The Saudi Arabian forces are armored with primarily western hardware. Chief providers are agencies in the Great Britain and the United States. Both the Great Britain and the America are active in conditioning programs carried on in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian air defense units were detached from the regular army in the mid-1980’s to build a 4th armed service branch accountable for territorial reserve air defense. The freshly formed 4th command was at first confided to Amir Khalid ibn Sultan Al Saud, son of the minister of defense force and air power. The air defense forces, with an approximated 4,000 personnel in 1992, had got as their chief duty the functioning of 33 surface-to-air missile batteries. Of these, 16 batteries were fitted with 128 I-Hawk surface-to-air missiles with a forty-kilometer range, which were emplaced close to Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah and cardinal air bases at Khamis Mushayt and Tabuk, in addition to the approaching to important oil installations of the easterly Province. The left over 17 batteries, constituting a 2nd blood line of air defense, were provided with 68 Shahine surface-to-air missile fire units with a range of 16 kms. These SAMs were an adaptation of the French Crotale projectile system hopped on AMX-30SA chassis. This fluid missile defense defended the Saudi Arabian oil fields and other critical facilities. An additional 73 Shahine fire units were utilized as static defense. Both the IHawk and Shahine systems were associated to AWACS and to the Peace Shield command and control system. Besides the missile defense team, the air defense personnel were armored with Vulcan 20 mm self-propelling guns and 30 mm guns mounted up on AMX-30SA chassis.
Present Royal Saudi Air Force
The Chief of the Air Staff Lt. General Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Ayish is the commanding office of the Royal Saudi Air force at present and all the notable commanders will be reporting to him and will be acting upon his directions from time to time. The Royal Saudi Air force units are separated into Wings that are dispelled across the 7 air bases. They are: RSAF Wing 1 at Hafar Al-Batin ,RSAF Wing 2 at Taif, RSAF Wing 3 at Dharan, RSAF Wing 4 at Riyadh, RSAF Wing 5 at Khamis Mushayt, RSAF Wing 6 at Al Karj, RSAF Wing 7 at Tabuk, RSAF Wing 8 at Jeddah and RSAF Wing 11 at Dharan.
The current crop of fighter aircrafts that are in the possession of the Royal Saudi Air Force are: United States manufactured Boeing F-15SA and Boeing F-15 Eagle which are fighter aircrafts; fighters Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter II; Strike fighter Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, ground attacker Panavia Tornado IDS and Eurofighter, Typhoon and Panavia Tornado Adv from United Kingdom. The aircrafts that are normally used for transportation by the Saudi Arabian Air force include: the Airbus A 340 and 330, BAe125, Boeing 747, BBJ1 and BBJ2 Boeing Business Jet, CASA CN-235 from Spain, Gates Learjet 35, Cessna 550 Citation, Gulfstream III, Lockheed L-100 and McDonnell Douglas MD-11. The Boeing 757 and the gulfstream V from the United States are the flights that are used for medical transport. The airborne refueling of the Royal Saudi Air Force is carried out by Lockheed C-130 and Boeing KE-3A. Italy’s Augusta Bell 212 and AS -61, United States Bell 205 and 412 and Japan’s Kawasaki Vertol 107 are the transport helicopters that are in the possession of the Saudi Arabian Air Force. The Eurocopter SA-and Eurocopter AS 365 Dauphin are the two naval helicopters that are used by the RSAF. The Eurocopter AS-532 Cougar is a combat search and rescue helicopter with the Royal Saudi Air Force. There are also a plenty of trainer aircrafts that are in the possession of the Royal Saudi Air Force and some of them are: BAe Hawk, an advanced trainer aircraft and BAe Jetstream trainer from United Kingdom; Pilatus RC-9 from Switzerland; France’s Reims Cessna F172 and Pakistan’s Super Mushshaaq Fighter.
Future of the Royal Saudi Air Force
Saudi Arabia is anticipating adopting seventy-two Eurofighter Typhoons with a pick for 72 more with a master program for 200+ Eurofighter Typhoons defending the Saudi Arabian sky by 2020. As the Typhoon is specified to function a long time in the Royal Saudi Air Force, almost all of them will be in the Tranch 3A specifications to grant more comfortable execution of forthcoming advances including driving force vectors, meteor and so forth. The Saudi Arabian Typhoons will be equivalent to the ones assisting in European nations and an important aspect to note is that the BAE has shifted a great quantity of technology with this attack aircraft which is a first to the whole Middle East nations. The technology channelized provides Saudi Arabia to alter the Typhoon with its personal equipment according to its necessities. Also, the fabrication industrial plant is at first to arrange pilot created items collectively but there is a program to make at least 80% of this aircraft’s constituents in Saudi Arabia.
Presently eighty-seven Panavia Tornado IDS Aircrafts are in commission with Royal Saudi Air Force and it is being promoted from GR1 to GR4. The ascent is being knocked off in Saudi Arabian territory with the program of also arriving at various possibilities to put in Saudi Arabian made equipment on it. Northrop F-5 is to be called back from armed service and it is at present functioning in reserve and in flight simulator role. BAE Hawk Mk65 services as a trainer aircraft besides being a reserve light strike aircraft. There are currently fifty BAE Hawks in armed service of the Saudi Arabian Air force. The number of BAe Hawks will grow with the program to step-up the size of the Royal Saudi Air Force to permit for the conditioning of a lot of inductees. There are at present twenty Pakistani Super Mushshaaq aircrafts assisting in the trainer role for the RSAF and the figure is scheduled to be expanded to 50-60 aircrafts. There are currently 16 Reims Cessna F172 trainers helping the RSAF. The subsequent acquirement Of Reims Cessna has been over looked in preference of the Pakistani Super Mushshak. Gulfstream V for RSAF medical wing also are the ones that are configured to be flight hospitals for fast redeployment of injured military personnel in far-off areas. At present there are two Gulfstream V in the possession of the royal Saudi Arabian Air force and 3 more are expected to be coming into Saudi Arabia pretty soon. there are presently eight of KE-3A air refueling Aircrafts in service of the RSAF which are getting a total make over.
In January 2008, Saudi Arabia laid an order for 3 A330 MRTT aircraft. The aircraft would be equipped with the EADS air refueling boom system (ARBS) and hose and air sock fuelling pods. An additional three A330 MRTT aircraft were again ordered by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and air power in July 2009, bringing the purchase order to six. The 1st A330-200 MRTT to be deployed in the Royal Saudi Air Force accomplished its inaugural flight in March 2011 and was handed over by the close of 2011. The remaining MRTT aircrafts will be ready for delivery in 2012. Apart from the air crafts and the helicopters, the Royal Saudi Air Force is also mulling at upgrading its artillery and the Saudi Arabian Government is right now negotiating on a whopping $30 to $60 billion arms deal with the United States in order to equip their armed forces with massive and latest weaponry to tackle the threats from its immediate neighbors. A total of 84 F-15 strike Eagles, 132 UH- 60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and AH-64 attack helicopters is also going to be part of the deal that Saudi Arabians are trying to close with the United States. There is no doubt with these amounts of acquirements; the Saudi Air Force is going to be a force to reckon with as far as aviation force in the Persian Gulf is concerned.