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Massive F-15 sale only part of U.S.-Saudi pact
by Gene Rector
Jan 02, 2012 | 2302 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Defense officials said over the weekend that the $29.4 billion sale of F-15SA aircraft to Saudi Arabia is just one part of a broader effort crucial to security in the Middle East region.

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, the F-15 focal point for the U.S. Air Force, will be a key element in implementing the massive program that will bring 84 new F-15 jets and upgrade 70 existing F-15s in the Royal Saudi Air Force fleet.

But a statement issued by the Pentagon Dec. 31 said the total effort is much broader. Included are more than $30 billion in additional aviation capabilities for the Saudi Arabian National Guard, the Royal Saudi Land Forces and the Saudi Royal Guard.

“The United States is firmly committed to the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as we have been for nearly seven decades,” noted James Miller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, in a Pentagon news release. “More broadly, the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong mutual interest in security and stability of the Gulf.”

Miller indicated that the overall agreement will bring the “latest generation of computing power, radar technology, infrared sensors and electronic warfare” to the Kingdom.

About 100 Robins people already work various Saudi programs under foreign military sales agreements between the two countries. The new F-15 program will add 85 positions on base and nearly triple the number of Robins people working in the Middle Eastern program.

“We have to put people at each of the five Saudi bases where F-15s will be bedded down plus some people near the Royal Saudi Air Force headquarters in Riyadh,” Col. Robert Stambaugh reported in an interview last year. He said the actual number of Robins people in Kingdom was sensitive. Stambaugh will lead the latest security assistance effort.

The new Saudi F-15SA aircraft, manufactured by the Boeing Corporation, will include an APG-63(v)3 radar with an active, electronically scanned array antenna offering increased surveillance and targeting ranges. The upgrade of the existing Saudi aircraft to the F-15SA configuration will be largely accomplished in Kingdom.

“The first couple will be done in the U.S. for validation, verification purposes,” Stambaugh pointed out.

The effort also includes bringing Saudi maintenance teams to the U.S. for orientation and initial certification to include “difference” training on the SA configuration.

The White House said the F-15SA sale will support 50,000 American jobs affecting 600 suppliers in 44 states and will add $3.5 billion in annual economic impact.

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