Saudi Arabia National Guard to launch air wing with $25bn helicopter purchase
Saudi Arabia's National Guard (SANG) is to be a key beneficiary of the mega arms deal with the USA and will directly lead to the creation of a new air arm.
Arabian Aerospace has learned that Riyadh will spent $25.6bn on setting up the SANG Aviation Command through the purchase of 156 helicopters including Apache and Little Bird AH6 models..
Saudi has previously confirmed a requirement for 190 helicopters but it had previously been expected that these would be for the RSAF.
The National Guard heads the internal security within the Kingdom and is directly descended from King Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s Ikhwan (Brotherhood), or White Army as it was sometimes called. This was the King’s instrument for subduing and unifying the various disparate tribes of the Arabian Peninsula to form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Once organized along tribal lines, and commanded by tribal sheiks today’s SANG continues to draw heavily for its members from select Bedouin tribes which have a record of unquestioning loyalty to the Crown. As a result of this history, the SANG has a long tradition of loyalty to both the nation and its ruling family.
SANG saw an Aviation Command added to its portfolio in 2006 but until now, had no aircraft to its name,
The 156 aircraft include 72 armed helicopters, which will be used for the defense of vital installations, including borders and oil infrastructure, and for supporting ground forces tasked with protecting such installations.
Unsurprisingly, the SANG aviation regiment will receive the 36 Boeing AH-6i Little Bird light attack helicopters included in the new arms deal. Unsurprisingly, as the light and simple AH-6i is a natural fit for a new air arm. These will carry Wescam MX-15Di (AN/AAQ-35) undernose turrets, containing EO targeting systems. The aircraft will be armed with GAU-19/A .50 caliber gun pods and will be supplied with launchers that will allow them to use the AGM-114R Hellfire II Anti-Tank Guided Missile.
More surprisingly, 36 of the 70 highly sophisticated Boeing AH-64D Block III Apaches likely to be supplied to Saudi Arabia will go to the Saudi Arabian National Guard (with 24 going to the Royal Saudi Land Forces and ten to the Royal Guard Regiment). Up to 20 of the Saudi Arabian National Guard Apaches will be equipped with the mast-mounted AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar.
The US DoD has notified Congress of its intention to supply some 2,592 AGM-114R Hellfire II missile