OFFICIALS ON both sides continue to remain tight-lipped about the exact details of the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF’s) Tornado Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), but some details of the proposed upgrade are slowly emerging. It is understood that details of the precise make up of the weapons package involved in upgrading the RSAF’s 48 Tornado interdictor strike aircraft under the CSP are now being finalised. A deal is expected to be concluded in the first half of 2007, with deliveries to commence in 2009.
The stealthy MBDA Storm Shadow conventionally armed stand-off missile, MBDA AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb and MBDA Brimstone anti-armour weapon are all expected to be included in the package. In an effort to pre-empt any possible US objections to the weapons sale, particularly regarding ASRAAM and Storm Shadow, senior UK and Pentagon officials met in Washington in early October to discuss to proposed CSP weapons package.
Storm Shadow will be one of the key elements of the Tornado CSP package, whilst ASRAAM is being offered for both the Tornado and the Typhoon.
The RSAF’s Tornado air defence variants are to be replaced with up to 72 Eurofighter Typhoons (see Saudi Typhoon Deal Moving Along, October, p24) and in addition to ASRAAM, the MBDA Meteor AAM is also expected to be acquired to equip these aircraft. Meteor is planned to be the primary air-to-air weapon for the RSAF Typhoons and development of the missile is now well under way.