A Royal Saudi Air Force AWACS takes off. The US has approved upgrades to five Saudi AWACS aircraft. (Jim Anderson / Boeing)
WASHINGTON — The US cleared two major potential sales to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Tuesday.
The Saudi government has requested $2 billion in upgrades for its E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. The Saudi military operates five of the command-and-control planes, produced by Boeing.
Upgrades include “Block 40/45 Mission Computing Upgrade systems, 20 Next Generation Identification Friend or Foe (NG IFF) AN/UPX-40, communication equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, support equipment, Mission Planning System, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment.”
The sale would help “improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability in the Middle East,” DSCA said in its notice.
Boeing will be the principal contractor on the proposed deal. On Aug. 6, the company announced a $250 million agreement to upgrade NATO’s AWACS fleet.
The agency also cleared a possible sale to Turkey for 145 AIM-120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles missiles and associated equipment. That sale would be worth an estimated $320 million.
Those missiles will be used on the Turkish Air Force’s fleet of F-16 fighters, although the DSCA notice adds that they could also be used on the country’s eventual F-35 fleet.
The weapons will help “maintain the TAF’s air-to-air capability to defend its extensive coastline and borders against future threat,” according to DSCA. Raytheon would produce the equipment in its Tucson, Arizona, facility.
While both sales have now been cleared by the State Department, they are subject to congressional approval and further negotiations with the potential customers. ■