Saudi Arabia has the money and clout to buy the expensive stuff. A number of years ago, they had 3 of their military’s Boeing 707 derivatives converted into RE-3 TASS planes for light battlefield surveillance, and COMINT/SIGINT roles. Unfortunately, those planes will be in the shop until 2015, and they need a quick substitute that will still be useful when the RE-3s come back. Guess what they picked…
Contracts & Key EventsAug 15/12: The US DSCA announces [PDF] an official request from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The Saudis want to buy:
- Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) suites to be provided and installed in 4 King Air 350ER aircraft, which the Saudis themselves will provide.
- 4 new King Air 350ER ISR planes with enhanced PT6A-67A engines and the same ISR suites pre-installed.
- 10 Link-16 capable data link systems and associated ground support.
- Ground Stations for processing the data.
- Plus spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, aircraft delivery, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.
- A modern, fully qualified CNS/ATM cockpit.
- RF-7800M-MP High Frequency Radios with encryption.
- AN/ARC-210 VHF/ UHF/ Satellite Communication Transceiver Radios with Have Quick II and encryption.
- A high speed Datalink.
- An AN/APX-114/119 Identification Friend or Foe Transponder.
- Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigations Systems (GPS/INS) with a Selective Availability Anti-spoofing Module (SAASM) to make jamming difficult.
- AN/AAR-60 Infrared Missile Warning and AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures defensive systems.
- An unspecified Electro-Optical Sensor.
- An unspecified SIGINT System.
- An unspecified Synthetic Aperture Radar to scan the ground.
“The RSAF needs additional ISR capability to provide persistent, real-time route surveillance, facility, infrastructure and border security, counter-terrorism and smuggling interdiction, support for naval and coastal operations, internal defense and search and rescue operations. Currently, the RSAF’s RE-3 aircraft is in depot maintenance and will not be available until after 2015. In the interim, the King AIR 350ER-ISR aircraft will allow the RSAF to perform a portion of the RE-3 mission. All systems will be compatible with and will continue to supplement the capabilities of the RSAF RE-3 aircraft. The KSA will have no difficulties absorbing and using these King Air ISR aircraft.”
Asian Defence News