Category Archives: Saudi Aviation

Agile Beams: Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars

AESAs aim their "beam" by broadcasting radio energy that interfere constructively at certain angles in front of the antenna. They improve on the older passive electronically scanned radars by spreading their broadcasts out across a band of frequencies, which makes it very difficult to detect over background noise. AESAs allow ships and aircraft to broadcast powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy. Above is AESA on F22

The AN/APG-77 is a multifunction radar installed on the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. It is one of the most advanced radar today. More than 100 APG-77 AESA radars have been produced to date by Northrop Grumman, and much of the technology developed for the APG-77 is being used in the APG-81 radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The APG-77v1 was installed on F-22 Raptors from Lot 5 and on. This provided full air-to-ground functionality (high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping, ground moving target indication and track (GMTI/GMTT), automatic cueing and recognition, combat identification, and many other advanced features).

APG-77 is based on Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) technology. The AESA includes multiple individual active transmit/receive (T/R) elements within the antenna. Depending upon the precise implementation, there may be anywhere between 1000 and 2000 of these individual T/R elements which, together with the RF feed, comprise the AESA antenna. As for the passive ESA, these elements are highly redundant and the radar can continue to operate with a sizeable percentage of the devices inoperative. This graceful redundancy feature means that the radar antenna is extremely reliable; it has been claimed that an AESA antenna will outlast the host aircraft. The fact that the transmitter elements reside in the antenna itself means there is no standalone transmitter – there is an exciter but that is all. As before, there is clearly a need for a receiver as well as an RDP and signal processor. The active T/R elements are controlled in the same way as the phase shifters on the passive ESA, either by using a beam-steering computer (BSC) or by embedding the beam-steering function in the RDP.

The ability to control many individual T/R modules by software means confers the AESA with immense flexibility of which only a few examples are: First each radiating element may be controlled in terms of amplitude and phase, and this provides superior beam-shaping capabilities for advanced radar modes such as terrainfollowing, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR (ISAR) modes. Secondly Multiple independently steered beams may be configured using partitioned parts of the multidevice array. Thirdly If suitable care is taken in the design of the T/R module, independent steerable beams operating on different frequencies may be accommodated and Finally The signal losses experienced by the individual T/R cell approach used in the AESA also bring considerable advantages in noise reduction, and this is reflected in improved radar performance.

The AN/APG-80 system is described as "agile beam", and can perform air-to-air, search-and-track, air-to-ground targeting and aircraft terrain-following functions simultaneously and for multiple targets. As a SAR system utilizing NG's fourth-generation transmitter/receiver technologies, it has a higher reliability and twice the range of older, mechanically-scanned AN/APG-68 radar systems. Above is F-16 APG-80 Radar

One dramatic improvement is the noise figure; it is especially significant achieving such an improvement so early in the RF front end. This results in a remarkable range improvement for the AESA radar. A number of US fighter aircraft are being fitted or retrofitted with AESA radars, these are F-22 Raptor, F-18E/F (Upgrade version) fitted with AN/APG-79, F-16E/F (Block 60) fitted with AN/APG-80, F-15 and F-35 fitted with AN/APG-81. Taking for example F-16, it is interesting to see a dofference in performance between two batches (Block 50) and Block 60. Former had target detection radar range of 50 miles, which was improved to 70 miles with AESA radards (for reference F-22 covers 125miles range). The F-16 Block 60 (now the F-16E/F) shows an improvement from 45 to 70 nm (þ55%), while the F-15C range has increased from 60 to 90 nm (þ50%). Apart from the obvious improvement in range, it has been stated by a highly authentic source that AESA radar confers 10–30 times more in radar operational capability compared with a conventional radar (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force, 2001).

The F-16E (single seat) and F-16F (two seat) are newer F-16 variants. The Block 60 version is based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52 and has been developed especially for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It features improved AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, avionics, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and the more powerful GE F110-132 engine. However the batch bought by Pakistan Air Force (F-16C/D) is equipped with AN/APG-68 (V)9 Radar Systems. Only the Block 60 aircraft, destined for the UAE, are to be equipped with a more advanced version – the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The APG-68(V)9 offers 30 percent increase in detection range, improved search-while-track mode (four vs. two tracked targets) and larger search volume and improved track while scan performance. Its single target track performance has also been improved. On air/ground missions, the new radar becomes an effective sensor, utilizing its high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mode, which allows the pilot to locate and recognize tactical ground targets from considerable distances. Although previous radars had some Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities, the new version generates imagery-class (2 feet resolution) high resolutions pictures, comparable to pictures delivered by the most modern commercial satellites. These pictures can be acquired from very long range, at all weather conditions and provide an effective, real-time source for the targeting of long range, precision guided weapons. The radar also has increased detection range in sea surveillance mode, and enhanced ground moving target identification and mappinc capability. The radar features an inertial measurement unit that improves dynamic tracking performance and provides an auto-boresight capability, which increases accuracy.


Filed under AESA, APG-68, APG-80, Electronic Warfare, F-16, F-22, F-22 raptor, F-35, F/A-18, Fifth Generation Combat Aircraft, Flight Simulation, FLIR Systems, Foreign Office Pakistan, Lockheed martin F-16, Pakistan, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Air Force F16, Pakistan Air Force JF 17, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan Defence, Pakistan-Afghnistan Border, RADAR, Radars, Radio Frequency, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aviation, Sixth Generation Fighter Jet, US Department of Defense, US Navy

Air Power Pakistan: Implementations of Network Centric Warfare

'I am well aware of Air developments in other countries and my Government is determined that the Royal Pakistan Air Force will not lag behind. M A Jinnah

This post is an effort to understand and articulate the power of information superiority in warfare from a Joint perspective. War is a product of its age. The tools and tactics of how we fight have always evolved along with technology. Often in the past, military organizations pioneered both the development of technology and its application. Such is not the case today. The advant of Information Technology, has changed the meaning of war. As I highlighted in some of my previous posts War today is no more same as war few decades back – here I am pointing to Electronic Warfare, Network Centric Warfare, Use of Artificial Intelligence in Battlefield, Unmanned Vehicles and so on. This post however, is to see how Network Centric Warfare (NCW) embodies the characteristics of the Information Age; and to identify the challenges in transforming this concept into a real operational capability. For more on Electronic Warfare and Artificial Intelligence see my following posts: Intellegent Warfare Electronic Support Measures and War Toys – Artificial Intelligence on Battlefield. I intend to show that How Well did Pakistan Air Force understands the Network Centric Warfare.

Society has changed. The underlying economics and technologies have changed. So we should be surprised if Global forces’ did not. For nearly 200 years, the tools and tactics of how we fight have evolved with military technologies. Now, fundamental changes are affecting the very character of war. Who can make war is changing as a result of weapons proliferation and the fact that the tools of war increasingly are marketplace commodities. By extension, these affect the where, the when, and the how of war. In 1998, U.S Navy published a report on the origin of Network Centric Warfare and how U.S Society and Business has adapted it. This report pointed out the transition from “platform-centric warfare” to “network-centric warfare”: It further goes on and suggested:

Network-centric warfare and all of its associated revolutions in military affairs grow out of and draw their power from the fundamental changes in American society. These changes have been dominated by the co-evolution of economics, information technology, and business processes and organizations, and they are linked by three themes:

– The shift in focus from the platform to the network
– The shift from viewing actors as independent to viewing them as part of a continuously adapting ecosystem
– The importance of making strategic choices to adapt or even survive in such changing ecosystems

These changes in the dimensions of time and space are increasing the pace of events, or operating tempo, in many different environments. Responsiveness and agility are fast becoming the critical attributes for organizations hoping to survive and prosper in the Information Age. With little observation of what is going around in Business, and civil sectors I don’r think that it is wrong to say that – the changes these affecting these organisations due to the advant of Information Technology are driven by changes in the environments they operate and capabilities they have in their disposal. Similarly, for military battle space has changed and become a case of Information Superiority. So what exactly is NCW and Why networking?

Network Centric Warfare

From a broad perspective the introduction of networking techniques into warfighting systems is the military equivalent of the digitisation and networking drive we observed in Western economies between 1985 and 1995. Military networking, especially between platforms, is far more challenging than industry networking due to the heavy reliance on wireless communications, high demand for security, and the need for resistance to hostile jamming. The demanding environmental requirements for military networking hardware are an issue in their own right.A high speed network permits error free transmission in a fraction of the time required for voice transmission, and permits transfer of a wide range of data formats. In a more technical sense, networking improves operational tempo (optempo) by accelerating the Observation-Orientation phases of Boyd’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop. Identified during the 1970s by US Air Force strategist John Boyd, the OODA is an abstraction which describes the sequence of events whihc must take place in any military engagement. The opponnent must be observed to gather information, the attacker must orient himself to the situation or context, then decide and act accordingly.

Observation-Orientation-Decision are all about gathering information, distributing information, analysing information, understanding information and deciding how to act upon this information. The faster we can gather, distribute, analyse, understand information, the faster we can decide, and arguably the better we can decide how and when to act in combat. Networking is a mechanism via which the Observation-Orientation phases of the loop can be accelerated, and the Decision phase facilitated. Well implemented networking can contribute to improved effectiveness in other ways. One such technique is ‘self synchronisation’ which permits ‘directive control’. Rather than micromanage a warfighting asset with close control via a command link tether, warfighters are given significant autonomy, defined objectives, and allowed to take the initiative in how they meet these objectives.

NCW focuses on the combat power that can be generated from the effective linking or networking of the warfighting enterprise. It is characterized by the ability of geographically dispersed forces (consisting of entities) to create a high level of shared battlespace awareness that can be exploited via self-synchronization. Furthermore, NCW is transparent to mission, force size, and geography. The mathematical bottom line in NCW is a very simple one: networking can permit a significant improvement in operational tempo, where a shortage of targeting information is the bottleneck to achieving a high operational tempo, but networking itself has very little impact on the absolute ability of a force to deliver weapons against targets, that being constrained by the capabilities and number of combat platforms in use.

It can be argued that networking produce its greatest gains in combat effect during battlefied strike and close air support operations, especially against highly mobile and fleeting ground targets. No less interesting are the effects observed in demand for specific types of assets to support networked interdiction and strike operations. Air Power Australia – An Australian Defence THink tank, cites that: Bigger is better in the networked strike game, so much so that a recent discussion piece by US analyst Price Bingham in the ISR Journal predicted the demise of the classical battlefield interdiction tasked fighter-bomber, in favour of larger bombers and UCAVs. This is a direct challenge to the basic rationale for the Joint Strike Fighter family of battlefield interdiction and close air support fighters, and the longer term use of legacy designs like the F-16 and F/A-18 variants. According to those who are in favour of NCW, A key issue for all networking is the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance capability supporting it. Networks like all computing systems obey the Garbage-In Garbage-Out rule – without accurate high quality ISR systems feeding the network, it is little more than high speed digital plumbing between platforms, with nothing useful to carry. However, one can equally finds the disadvantage of this In-Out system (i will come on this issue later).

U.S aside, Russia has capitalised on this by aggressively marketing ISR platforms like the A-50 AWACS, digital datalinking products – the Soviets were deeply enamoured of digital air defence networks – and counter ISR systems. The latter include long range AAMs like the R-172, R-37 and Kh-31 variants, as well as airborne and land mobile high power jamming equipment, and very long range SAMs like the S-400 and Imperator series. As the ranges of our sensors and weapons increase and as our ability to move information rapidly improves, we are no longer geographically constrained. Hence, in order to generate a concentrated effect, it is no longer necessary to concentrate forces.

The prerequisite for an NCW capability is the digitisation of combat platforms. A combat aircraft with a digital weapon system can be seamlessly integrated in an NCW environment by providing digital wireless connections to other platforms. Without the digital weapon system, and its internal computers, NCW is not implementable.

The term Network Centric Warfare also carries some baggage. By mistake, some have focused on communication networks, not on warfare or operations where the focus should rightly be.
Networks are merely a means to an end; they convey “stuff” from one place to another and they are the purview of technologists. NCW does not focus on network-centric computing and communications, but
rather focuses on information flows, the nature and characteristics of battlespace entities, and how they need to interact. NCW is all about deriving combat power from distributed interacting entities with significantly improved access to information.

There has been little effort to capitalise on the new technology of ad hoc network protocols, designed for self organising networks of mobile platforms, although the JTRS WNW effort looks promising. The DARPA GLOMO program in the late 1980s saw considerable seed money invested, but did not yield any publicised dramatic breakthroughs. Ad hoc networking remains a yet to be fully explored frontier in the networking domain, one which is apt to provide a decisive technology breakthrough for NCW.

Technological Challegnes

Security and Robustness of transmission, Transmission capacity, Message and signal routing, and Signal format and communications protocol compatibility are some issues concerning NCW. It is essential that dissimilar platforms and systems can communicate in an NCW environment. This problem extends not only to the use of disparate signal modulations and digital protocols, but to the use of partially incompatible implementations of what is ostensibly the same signal modulation or communications protocol.

Global Defence Industry


Most regional nations are now operating, deploying or shopping for Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. Russia is actively marketing digital datalinks, like the TKS-2 and older APD-518, and marketing counter-ISR weapons like the Novator R-172 (KS-172) or Kh-31 series missiles. Russia is also marketing high power jamming equipment, especially pods using Digital RF Memory (DRFM) technology, and there is a good prospect of a Growler-ski based on the Su-32 materialising before the end of the decade.

United States of America

In practical terms, by 2010-2015 regional opponents without AEW&C, long range counter-ISR missiles and jamming pods are likely to be the obliging exception to the rule. US thinking is not surprisingly centred in using F/A-22As to sanitise airspace permitting unhindered use of ISR platforms and networks, and the program to replace the lost capabilities of the EF-111A Raven with the B-52J or EB-52, equipped with high power stand-off jamming equipment to disrupt opposing networks and ISR sensors.

Pakistan Airforce and Network Centric Warfare

NCW must be properly understood before it can be used as a basis for strategic planning decisions. Clearly this was not been the case in many key areas of the Pakistan’s MoD. The situation however changes in 2010.

The Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C, developed for the Pakistan Air Force, on display

JF-17 operation, new batch of F-16, inclusion of Saab 2000 erieye, and ZDK 03 AWACS aircarfts are all part of step taken by Pakistan Air Force, to meet the NCW and Electronic Warfare requirements, which indeed are less than none. SAAB signed an 8 billion kronor provisional contract to supply 6 Saab 2000 erieye to Pakistan, which was finalized in June 2006 at four aircraft, one of which has been delivered to date. This aircraft (shown above) incorporates the Erieye Radar System, and Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWCS) and is based on based on the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

The Erieye AEW&C mission system radar is an active, phased-array, pulse-Doppler sensor that can feed an onboard operator architecture or downlink data (via an associated datalink subsystem) to a ground-based air defence network. The system employs a large aperture, dual-sided antenna array housed in a dorsal ‘plank’ fairing. The antenna is fixed, and the beam is electronically scanned, which provides for improved detection and significantly enhanced tracking performance compared with radar-dome antenna systems. Erieye detects and tracks air and sea targets out to the horizon, and sometimes beyond this due to anomalous propagation — instrumented range has been measured at 450 km. Typical detection range against fighter-sized targets is approximately 425 km, in a 150° broadside sector, both sides of the aircraft. Outside these sectors, performance is reduced in forward and aft directions. Other system features include: Adaptive waveform generation (including digital, phase-coded pulse compression); Signal processing and target tracking; Track While Scan (TWS); Low sidelobe values (throughout the system’s angular coverage); Low- and medium-pulse repetition frequency operating modes; Frequency agility; Air-to-air and sea surveillance modes; and Target radar cross-section display.

Pakistan Air Force JF-17

JF-17 comprises of two VHF/UHF radios, one of them having capacity for data linking. The data link can be used to exchange data with ground control centres, AWACS/AEW aircraft and other combat aircraft also equipped with compatible data links. The ability to data link with other “nodes” such as aircraft and ground stations allows JF-17 to become part of a network, improving the situational awareness of the pilot as well as other entities in the network.

The JF-17 has a defensive aids system (DAS) made up of various integrated sub-systems. A radar warning receiver (RWR) gives data such as direction and proximity of enemy radars to the pilot and electronic warfare (EW) suite, housed in a fairing at the tip of the tail fin for greater coverage, that interferes with enemy radars. The EW suite is also linked to a missile approach warning (MAW) system to help it defend against radar-guided missiles. The MAW system uses several optical sensors mounted on the airframe (two of which can be seen at the base of the vertical stabiliser) that detect the rocket motors of missiles and gives 360 degree coverage. The DAS systems will also be enhanced by integration of a self-protection radar jamming pod which will be carried externally on one of the aircraft’s hardpoints. Electronic support measures and defensive aids are used extensively to gather information about threats or possible threats. DAS Systems – They can be used to launch devices (in some cases automatically) to counter direct threats against the aircraft. They are also used to determine the state of a threat and identify it. To my knowledge it uses KJ8602A Airborne Radar Warning Receiver. The KJ8602A airborne radar warning receiver (RWR) is designed to detect incoming radar signals; identify and characterise these signals to a specific threat; and alert the aircrew through the cockpit video/audio warning. The KJ8602A features several external antennae mounted on the vertical fin tip, both wingtips, and underneath the forward fuselage. Once the hostile radar signal is detected, the KJ8602A analyses those received signals and identify the signal sources according to the stored emitter identification data (EID), and alerts the pilot. The system can also automatically trigger the chaff/flare dispenser or other onboard ECM systems to counter the incoming threats.

The JF-17s in service with the PAF are fitted with an Italian Grifo S-7 multi-track, multi-mode, pulse Doppler radar radar. The radar has 25 working modes and a non-break-down time of 200 hours, and is capable of “look-down, shoot-down”, as well as for ground strike abilities. Alternatively, the aircraft can be fitted with the Thales RC400, GEC Marconi Blue Hawk, Russian Phazotron Zemchug/Kopyo, and Chinese indigenous KLJ-7 developed by Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET). The first 42 production aircraft currently being delivered to the Pakistan Air Force are equipped with the NRIET KLJ-7 radar. In December 2010, Pakistan Air Force’s Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman announced that KLJ-7 radar will be built at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), in Kamra, north of Islamabad

The KLJ-7 uses a mechanically-steered slotted array antenna and bears similarities with the various Russian radars imported in the 1990s. Russian radar design houses Phazotron and NIIP had worked closely in the past with the Chinese radar design bureaus and provided technical assistance as well as operational models of Russian-made radar sets that were used as benchmarks in the process of these Chinese firms developing their own design. Up to 20 units of the Phazotron Zhemchoug ('Pearl) radar were imported in the mid-1990s for evaluation along with 2 units of Phazotron (NIIR) RP-35, which is the upgraded version of the Zhemchoug

The KLJ-7 has multiple modes, both beyond-visual-range (BVR) and close-in air-to-air modes, ground surveillance modes and a robust anti-jamming capability. The radar can reportedly manage up to 40 targets, monitor up to 10 of them in track-while-scan (TWS) mode and simultaneously fire on two BVR targets. The detection range for targets with a radar cross-section of 5 square meters is stated to be ≥105 km (≥85 km in look-down mode). Surface sea targets can be detected at up to 135 km. It has been reported that KLJ-7 also has modes to support a range of NATO weaponry, including the Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range and AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range air-to-air missiles. The RADAR operates at Ground Moving Target Indication/Ground Moving Target Track (GMTI/GMTT), Range While Search (RWS), Sea Single Target Track (SSTT), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Doppler Beam Sharpening (DBS), Situational Awareness Mode (SAM), Velocity Search (VS) and many other. Pakistan’s move to develop these RADARS at home, and extending their capibility to next level will surely provide them an advantage over its compitators.

Four Chinese ZDK-03 AEW&C aircraft have also been ordered. Which are PAF-specific version of the KJ-200, incorporating a Chinese AESA radar similar to the Erieye mounted on the Shaanxi Y-8F600 transport aircraft. Currently PAF’s No.24 Blinders squadron operates three Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft in the ELINT (Electronic signals intelligence) and ECM (Electronic countermeasures) roles. Former refers to intelligence-gathering by use of electronic sensors. Its primary focus lies on non-communications signals intelligence. The data gathered are typically pertinent to the electronics of an opponent’s defense network, especially the electronic parts such as radars, surface-to-air missile systems, aircraft, etc. ELINT can be used to detect ships and aircraft by their radar and other electromagnetic radiation; commanders have to make choices between not using radar (EMCON), intermittently using it, or using it and expecting to avoid defenses. ELINT can be collected from ground stations near the opponent’s territory, ships off their coast, aircraft near or in their airspace, or by satellite. However, ECM, are a subsection of electronic warfare which includes any sort of electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared (IR) or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy. The system may make many separate targets appear to the enemy, or make the real target appear to disappear or move about randomly. It is used effectively to protect aircraft from guided missiles (refer to my precvious post for ECM and ESM).

The Shaanxi Y-8 or Yunshuji-8 aircraft is a medium size medium range transport aircraft produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Company in China, based on the Soviet Antonov An-12.

KJ-200, incorporates an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar (aka active phased array radar). This radar possess many advantages over conventional passive scanned radar, one is that the different modules can operate on different frequencies. Additionally, the solid-state transmitters are able to broadcast effectively at a much wider range of frequencies, giving AESAs the ability to change their operating frequency with every pulse sent out. AESAs can also produce beams that consist of many different frequencies at once, using post-processing of the combined signal from a number of transmitter-receiver modules (TRMs) to re-create a display as if there was a single powerful beam being sent. AESAs are so much more difficult to detect, and so much more useful in receiving signals from the targets, that they can broadcast continually and still have a very low chance of being detected. This allows the radar system to generate far more data than if it is being used only periodically, greatly improving overall system effectiveness. Similar type is featured on F-22 and F/A 18 Super Hornet.

Concluding Remarks

Critics of NCW argue that system is prone to Chaos, and thus link the system with Chaos Theory – to some extent they are right, but as I have mentioned earlier, system integration in NCW is no easy, and prone to may fatel error if neglected. As far as PAF analysis is concerned, I have treid my best to include what I could and keep it simple. However, I will include the advances from Navy side some other time. Also, if reader is interested to explore more about the Network Centric Warfare, please refer to US DoD Report to Congress and Thought Systems and Network Centric Warfare

Leave a comment

Filed under Chaos Theory, Dopplar Radar, Electronic Counter Measures, EMCON, Erieye radar, F-22, Foreign Office Pakistan, GMTI/GMTT, KJ8602A, KLJ-7, Network Centric Warfare, OODA, Pak-Af, Pakistan, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Air Force F16, Pakistan Air Force JF 17, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan Defence, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan-China, Pakistan-India Wars, RADAR, Rao Qamar Suleman, RC400, Russia, S-300 Missiles, S-400 missiles, Saab 2000 Erieye, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aviation, U.S DoD, ZDK 03

Saudi Dynamics – Don’t kiss my hand

The price of oil may remain in flux, but the commitment in Riyadh to grow its military power and diversify its supplier network remains constant. Recently Saudi Arabia placed an order worth $29.4 billion 84 new F-15SAs equipped with active electronically scanned array radars and major upgrades to its fleet of 70 F-15Ss. Moreover, Saudi Arabia could acquire more than 150 new helicopters from the USA under acquisitions worth a combined $25.6 billion. Riyadh is aiming for 72 Sikorsky UH-60M (shown below) Black Hawk transports, plus 36 AH-6i light attack helicopters and 36 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbows from Boeing and 12 MD Helicopters MD530s, and 48 UH-60Ls on order.

Looking at current Saudi fleet, it already operates 12 AH-64As, and has a confirmed order for 12 D-model. Latter sale was announced the same day when former deal to buy F-15s was confirmed.

UH-60M Black Hawk

Among the Gulf states, Saudi’s military still stands apart as the only force operating airborne “command ships”. The United Arab Emirates plans to break that monopoly soon, but Riyadh clearly wants to maintain its advantage. Again, Boeing is likely to become the favoured contractor.

Credits: FlightGlobal, Airliners.NET


Filed under Aviation, Black Hawk, Current Affairs, Engineering, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aviation, Sikorsky