The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of airborne warning and control system (AWACS) upgrade programme and associated equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Under the estimated $2bn sale, Saudi Arabia has requested the supply of five E-3A AWACS Block 40/45 mission computing upgrade systems, along with 20 AN/UPX-40 next-generation identification friend or foe (NG IFF) systems.

The package also includes communication equipment, spare and repairs parts, support equipment, mission planning system, personnel training and training equipment, as well as other related elements of logistics and programme support.

The Block 40/45 major defence equipment includes new mission computing hardware and software with open architecture, such as computers, servers, and mission interactive displays, while NG IFF equipment includes receivers, interrogators and processor hardware for early detection of friendly contacts.

"Saudi Arabia has requested the supply of five E-3A AWACS Block 40/45 mission computing upgrade systems."

Approved by the US State Department, the sale is expected to enhance the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF) ability to effectively field, support, and employ AWACS aircraft for the foreseeable future, and maintain interoperability with US and coalition forces.

RSAF E-3A AWACS fleet provides early warning of potential airborne threats to Saudi Arabia and manages friendly airborne assets.

Boeing has been named as prime contractor for the FMS programme.

The E-3 Sentry is designed by Boeing to conduct all-weather airborne surveillance and command, control and communications functions for both tactical and air defence forces.

The aircraft is based on the Boeing 707 airliner, and provides an airborne early warning capability by tracking aircraft at extended ranges, and is also operational with Nato, as well as French, the US and the UK air forces.

Image: A Royal Saudi Air Force E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, US. Photo: courtesy of Kelly White.

Defence Technology