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Saudi Arabia to purchase 84 F-15SA, upgrade current F-15 fleet

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Air Force officials announced the next chapter in a partnership with the Royal Saudi Air Force as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently signed a $29.4 billion Foreign Military Sales Letter of Offer and Acceptance solidifying their plans to purchase 84 F-15SA fighter aircraft and upgrade their current fleet of 70 F-15S aircraft to the SA configuration.

"We are excited about this program and the increased capability it will bring to Saudi Arabia, a strategically important partner in the Middle East region," said Heidi Grant, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. "Building partner capacity is becoming even more important and the Royal Saudi Air Force is undertaking a vast effort to not only modernize their fighter fleet but to invest heavily in quality training."

As part of the agreement, Saudi airmen will be attending Air Force technical training courses at a number of Air Force installations, including Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Keesler AFB, Miss. Saudi airmen will train alongside their U.S. Air Force counterparts, enriching training for both countries and enhancing an already strong relationship between the two countries.

The Air Force will also coordinate English language training for the students at Lackland AFB, Texas, officials added.

"Air Education and Training Command offers high-quality, advanced training to our international partners in a number of skill sets," said Brig. Gen. Tim Zadaliss, the AETC director of operations. "This agreement allows the U.S. Air Force the opportunity to assist the Royal Saudi Air Force in not only modernizing their equipment, but ensuring they will have a well trained force to maintain and operate it."

Officials said that under the agreement, students may begin arriving this year, and in 2012, the service expects to train more than 300 Saudi airmen in Air Force technical training courses.

The U.S. Air Force has been training members of the Royal Saudi Air Force on U.S. soil for more than 25 years, officials said. Since 2007, more than 1,000 Royal Saudi Air Force students have attended U.S. Air Force training programs, including pilot, navigator, logistics, maintenance and explosive ordnance disposal training, as well as professional military education courses.

The program, which includes the largest foreign military sales contract in U.S. history, is being led by Lt. Gen. Thomas Owen, Aeronautical Systems commander and will involve program management personnel at Robins AFB, Ga., Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Langley AFB, Va., as well as many other Air Force and Navy organizations.

Article by Air Force News Service